Home/News/The Civil Discovery Impact of 50,000+ Smart Phone Extractions
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How Often Are Police Getting Access to Locked Phones? More Than You Might Think: eDiscovery Trends

Author: Doug Austin -eDiscovery Today

…a new report from the Washington, DC-based research nonprofit Upturn finds 50,000 cases where law enforcement agencies turned to outside firms to bypass the encryption on a mobile device…
… Upturn found that people consented to 53 percent of the more than 1,500 extractions conducted by the Harris County, Texas, Sheriff’s Office (which is the county where I live, by the way). In Atlanta, however, only about 10 percent of the nearly 1,000 extractions were done with the owner’s consent…
…From the Cited report… We found that state and local law enforcement agencies have performed hundreds of thousands of cellphone extractions since 2015, often without a warrant. To our knowledge, this is the first time that such records have been widely disclosed…

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Editor Comment:

Good find by Doug (who credits his wife) on Upturn.org’s new report on the widespread use of Mobile Device Forensic Toolkits like Cellebrite or Access Data by law enforcement. Aside from the civil liberties issues, I want to draw corporate litsupport/compliance/security attention to the logical progression that looms. The latest Gallup poll shows that 58% of employees work remote sometimes or always. I can tell you from personal experience and data collections that smart phone usage for work tasks rises dramatically with remote workers. What happens when an employee refuses to unlock or turn over their BYOD smart phone during a custodial or exit interview? Will the court accept that gap in your productions when your BYOD policy states that the company should have the right to access the device? I can see an opposing argument that law enforcement’s warrantless roadside extraction of texts and other mobile content raises the bar for corporate BYOD management. Already, I have run RFP’s for corporate litsupport to buy their own MDFT’s from Paraben or others. I am still looking for a practical COTS enterprise solution for remote preservation/acquisition of mobile devices. The manual effort to set up device backups to OneDrive or similar work arounds is a real pain point that someone needs to solve. So send me any recommendations or new offerings!

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