Recent news of the three law-enforcement offices having joint control over new technology used for confiscated cell phones have left us wondering if this may be a serious violation of privacy.
The Nodaway Sheriff's Department, Maryville Public Safety and the University Police Department will soon begin the use of a new system, Cellebrite. Cellebrite will allow law-enforcement to extract any text messages or media from cellphones and mobile devices in order to track criminal investigations faster and more accurately.
Though in these cases the cell phones have been confiscated by the departments during a criminal investigation, iPhone users are usually safe from an intrusion of privacy. In case you did not know, if you are an iPhone user, Apple is known for not releasing any of your iMessages or phone records to law-enforcement, but it seems they have found a way around Apple’s barrier. Cellebrite can bypass any data blocks or encryptions with just a press of a button.
It should be assumed this was soon to come, considering we are living in a technologically based world where a good handful of crimes are primarily cyber-based. Law enforcement was sure to come up with ways to combat their obvious disadvantage.
On one hand, this could be very useful in situations where there are relatively no leads to sexual assault crimes or student deaths. Law enforcement can use Cellebrite to determine the last exchanges between individuals to lead them to a conclusion. But could this turn into a situation in which law enforcement abuses their power? Could Cellebrite be used to violate your fourth amendment rights? We think, yes, it’s very possible. The idea of someone, law-enforcement or not, rummaging through your private messages, thoughts and photos shouldn’t sit well with anyone, but it’s hard to determine if the positive outweighs the negative.
One can argue, if you don’t have anything to hide, then you don’t have anything to worry about. Yes, but what about simple confidentiality. Can it be guaranteed that information not pertaining to the criminal investigation won’t be released to other individuals?
Honestly, it all comes down to trusting our law-enforcement on campus and within the Maryville community to use the technology appropriately. Though, with the amount of heat law-enforcement have received throughout the country pertaining to violations of basic rights, it can be hard to repress feelings of mistrust or accusatory statements.
The new technology is sure to cause some debates of privacy, but we should strive to trust our local law-enforcement are here to help above all else. We need to trust our rights will be upheld and respected, and our private lives protected. If this is proven to be false, then together we will all fight for what is right.