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April 21, 2011
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ACLU questions Mich. police cell-phone scans

There has been no indication that Michigan Police have ever used these devices in any way that violates civil rights

By PoliceOne Staff

LANSING, Mich. — A portable device used by Michigan police to extract information from cell phones is being questioned by the ACLU.

The organization has filed dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests for the extracted information. They want to know what police have used the information for, and under what circumstances they typically use the device.

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The Michigan Police Department told the ACLU that they’d have to pay about $544,680 for the cost of copying the documents, according to the Daily Tribune. The ACLU would not pay that price, so they decided to go public with their efforts.

There has been no indication that Michigan Police have ever used these devices in any way that violates civil rights. The ACLU has conceded that point, but expressed a desire to know more.

What they are looking into is a detailed description of when and how officers are using the device.

Michigan State Police released a statement Wednesday saying that the devices are only used if a search warrant is obtained or if the person involved gives permission to have the phone scanned. They say the devices are not used on traffic stops.

The cell phone has evolved from a simple communication device into a storage device for potentially valuable (to cops) but very personal (to civilians) information.

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