Law enforcement has quite an arsenal to access personal data to chase suspects, but installing remote access Trojans to pry on usersâ€™ online activity or simply sending a subpoena to the ISP is so out of fashion.
According to the official announcement issued by Radio Tactics, a company that specializes in forensic software, 16 London boroughs have been equipped with the ACESO mobile device data extraction solution, a piece of software that can extract call history, texts and contacts, as well as GPS positioning data in a pre-determined period of time.
This software is running on â€œpurpose-built terminalsâ€ and will allow law enforcement officers to gather all relevant data and produce a print of it by simply connecting to the suspectâ€™s phone.
â€œMobile phones and other devices are increasingly being used in all levels of criminal activity,â€ said Stephen Kavanagh, Deputy Assistant Commission of the Metropolitan Police Service. â€œOur ability to act on forensically-sound, time-critical information, from SMS to images contained on a device quickly gives us an advantage in combating crime, notably in terms of identifying people of interest quickly and progressing cases more efficiently,â€ he concluded.
The ACESO software can extract data even if the SIM is PIN-locked, but the police needs to require a Pin Unlock Code, an action that is regulated by the Regulation of Investigatory Power Act (RIPA) and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE).
Despite these regulations, Privacy International has expressed serious concern over the system.
“We are looking at a possible breach of human rights law,” spokeswoman Emma Draper reportedly stated. “It is illegal to indefinitely retain the DNA profiles of individuals after they are acquitted or released without charge, and the communications, photos and location data contained in most people’s smartphones is at least as valuable and as personal as DNA.”