Mobile forensic equipment arriving soon
Mexico Public Safety has ordered and will soon be implementing a new Cellebrite Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) Touch Ultimate.
The UFED Touch Ultimate is mobile forensic equipment that enables the physical, logical and file system extraction of all data and passwords from a range of mobile phones, portable Global Positioning System devices and tablets.
The device is capable of accessing data from GPS, contacts, texts, password protected files, deleted content and even social media applications. The mobile devices must be physically connected to the UFED and can only be searched if MPS is granted permission by the owner to access the device, or under the authority of a subpoena or search warrant.
In the past, MPS has borrowed similar technology from the Audrain County Sheriff's Department, which has since become antiquated. In the modern technological environment, it is crucial that MPS obtain the most up to date technologies available, both to exonerate and impugn suspects.
Police Chief Susan Rockett said MPS will be using the device to extract "a myriad of information. So much is toted around in our pockets everyday. What we will be looking for is case specific, whether from GPS, Facebook or photos. For example, with the GPS tracking we can ascertain a person's location at a specific time to collaborate or disprove an alibi."
The 2013-2014 city budget allowed $10,500 for the purchase of such a device. Cellebrite USA, Inc. of Glen Rock, New Jersey, bid their UFED Touch Ultimate at $10,584. Chief Rockett said that the additional $84 was not an issue. "We try to get as close as possible to the budget and Cellebrite offered us the lowest bid."
What was made a concern at the Dec. 9 City Council meeting, where the potential purchase of the device was discussed with Council members, was the annual $2,998.99 fee for software updates.
Chief Rockett assured the Council that the updates would prove necessary to stay up-to-date with ever progressing mobile technology capabilities. The purchase of the UFED Touch Ultimate, including software updates, was unanimously authorized by the Council.
Mexico Public Safety isn't the only agency looking to mobile devices to aid in investigations. Chief Rockett said that millions of subpoena and search warrant requests of cellular devices were submitted by American authorities last year.
Last year authorities made about 1.1 million requests for cellular data to mobile carriers, alone. This information is not protected by law and can currently be accessed without a warrant if the mobile providers are willing to divulge it. AT&T and T-Mobile accounted for over 600,000 requests. AT&T also allows real time web browsing surveillance in addition to the tower dumps that authorities usually request.
The company employs more than 100 full-time workers to process such requests. Sprint maintains a database system that processes the intake and distribution of law enforcement requests to a team of analysts for response, but do not track the amount or types of requests made.
Massachusetts's Democratic Senator, Edward J. Markey, plans to introduce legislation in the coming weeks to provide increased privacy protection to consumers, including requiring a warrant for police to access cellphone location information to prove it necessary in uncovering criminal evidence. The legislation he plans to propose would also require the Federal Communications Commission to limit the amount of time carriers are allowed to store customers' personal information.
The next addition that Mexico Public Safety looks forward to making to their equipment is an interview recording system, iRecord, which will cost nearly $20,000. The funds for such were provided by a grant that Chief Rockett applied for through the Missouri Police Chiefs Association.
IRecord is the first system designed specifically for Electronic Recording of Interrogations application. The system was co-designed by a group of detectives and law enforcement professionals. Springfield, IL authorities praised the system in 2007 for being relied upon to attain the 100-year sentence of career criminal, Gregory Hullum, for 14 counts of armed robbery.