Trump protesters may find themselves in a bit of an awkward position right now. During the protests on Inauguration day, federal prosecutors successfully obtained a lot of personal data from locked mobile devices. This information is now being turned into a cloud-based database and will be made accessible to the lawyers of over 200 defendants accused of felony rioting. A very troublesome development, that much is certain.
Felony Rioting Will Not Go By Unpunished
It has to be said, President Trump‘s Inauguration day did not go off without a hitch. While protests were to be expected, no one expected select groups of individuals would turn to violence so quickly. Over US$100,000 in damages was caused by 214 identified individuals. While these numbers are out of the ordinary, all of these individuals have had information extracted from their locked mobile devices.
With the police arresting roughly 230 people for rioting, it was only a matter of time until more severe action was undertaken. That being said, police officials did not only arrest protesters, but also journalists and medics. During these arrests, the police also seized the phones of over 100 arrested individuals. Since all of these devices were locked, it was a bit unclear what the police hoped to obtain from taking this course of action.
No one should be surprised to learn the US government has been working hard to extract data from the phones. In fact, a new report shows the government is inching closer toward retrieving all information from these confiscated devices and turn them into a cloud-based database over the next few weeks. Additionally, the police also data mined social media profiles of those arrested to obtain more information about the individuals and their relatives. It is also believed several Gmail accounts were accessed by mobile devices in the custody of the police at that time.
Once this cloud-based database is ready, it will be shared with the lawyers of the defendants. This will also allow the lawyers to access all data belonging to every other defendant arrested for the Inauguration day rioting. The information is expected to include photos, videos, medical data and other “identifying information”. This database is an interesting spin on letting lawyers plan a defense strategy, that much is certain.
Thankfully, it appears the goal is to ensure lawyers cannot copy this information unless it is relevant to preparing a defense. On the other hand, this ordeal goes to show governments and law enforcement agencies are becoming increasingly successful in cracking mobile devices, even when they are locked and protected. This is not a positive development by any means, although it seems plausible such activities will only be encouraged further in the future.
It remains unclear how the police obtained the information from these devices, though. While it seems plausible to assume some “illegal” tools were used in the process, it is equally possible those arrested were forced to unlock their devices on their own accord. Furthermore, in the eyes of the court forced fingerprint biometric unlocking is also more acceptable than requiring the suspects to give up their password.
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