Are Police In Michigan Stealing Cellphone Info?

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Are Michigan State Police breaking the law and illegally obtaining private information from cellphones? Apparently, it’ll cost somewhere around $500,000 to find out.

The Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has accused the MSP of using devices to extract information from the cellphones of drivers they’ve pulled over without the owner’s knowledge, thereby violating Fourth Amendment rights. Mark Fancher, an ACLU attorney told reporters that cellphones “can contain information that many people consider to be private, to be beyond the reach of law enforcement and other government actors… There is great potential for abuse here by a police officer or state trooper who may not be monitored or supervised on the street.”

In response, the MSP has issued a statement saying that it will provide information about the devices and what they’ve been used to capture, “in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act,” but added that “there may be a processing fee to search for, retrieve, examine and separate exempt material.” That fee, according to Fancher, has been estimated around $500,000.

Why so high? Perhaps that’s a perfectly reasonable amount to process all the information taken from the devices, in which case, raising the question “How much information has been captured from people’s cellphones?” Or perhaps it’s simply a deterrent to stop people trying to see sensitive material.

Either way, Fancher isn’t happy:

This should be something that they are handing over freely, and that they should be more than happy to share with the public — the routines and the guidelines that they follow.

Anyone fancy starting a Kickstarter to make sure the MSP can get the money they’re looking for, for this information?

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