What is that police officer doing with your cell phone?

I just published an article in Wired about the state of cell phone forensics — basically, it’s about what those CSI types do when they get a court order to seize your cell phone and suck evidence off of it. What I discovered shouldn’t surprise anyone who realizes that cell phones at this point are a lot like computers. It’s easy to fake evidence on them, including stuff you may not have even realized is on your phone: erased SMS messages and the location of the last cell phone tower your passed by. (Most of the time, cell evidence is used to place people at the scene of a crime, so the location of nearby cell towers is crucial.)

Want to find out how detectives get evidence from mobiles, as well as the flaws in that process? Read the article.

One thought on “What is that police officer doing with your cell phone?

  1. As a librarian who started using computers when punch-cards were state-of-the-art data entry and was a guinea-pig for IBM’s first prototype mouse, Ms. Newitz is absolutely on target. One of my jobs in the early 1990’s was at UT-Austin’s College of Education. Faculty there, including my boss, were absolutely convinced that Textbooks would be obsolete by the 21st Century, and all learning would be done via computers. There were so convinced they planned to literally trash over 20,000 print and non-digital items. I resigned in disgust, but not before I got the print community, and one close friend of then-President William Cunningham to intercede to make sure the collection was not trashed. If you go to the Youth Collection at the PCL on the 6th floor and look through the over-sized books, you will find some marked “IMC” or “College of Education” or “Curriculum & Instruction”. Those will be some of the material I saved from the landfill.
    In my current job at a local Junior College one of my tasks is to sign out Textbooks to students. A stack is on my desk as I type. We have decades, if not centuries to go before the printed word is obsolete. Outside of the health factors, a digitized book is nowhere as convient as a printed book to read, flip back and forth between pages, or maintain. Try dropping a paperback and a laptop five feet onto a concrete floor and see which retains the information and structural integrity best. (Levitis 5 foot test)