In one of the rare times I find myself in support of the ACLU, I have to admit, they are doing the right thing here. Police in Michigan are using a powerful piece of tech to download the contents of driver’s cell phones during routine traffic stops.

It seems like a complete violation of the Fourth Amendment:

“Law enforcement officers are known, on occasion, to encourage citizens to cooperate if they have nothing to hide,” ACLU staff attorney Mark P. Fancher wrote. “No less should be expected of law enforcement, and the Michigan State Police should be willing to assuage concerns that these powerful extraction devices are being used illegally by honoring our requests for cooperation and disclosure.”

A US Department of Justice test of the CelleBrite UFED used by Michigan police found the device could grab all of the photos and video off of an iPhone within one-and-a-half minutes. The device works with 3000 different phone models and can even defeat password protections.

“Complete extraction of existing, hidden, and deleted phone data, including call history, text messages, contacts, images, and geotags,” a CelleBrite brochure explains regarding the device’s capabilities. “The Physical Analyzer allows visualization of both existing and deleted locations on Google Earth. In addition, location information from GPS devices and image geotags can be mapped on Google Maps.”

The ACLU is concerned that these powerful capabilities are being quietly used to bypass Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches.

I’m really at a loss on this one.

Why in the name of Patrick Henry would a police officer need to download everything on your phone?

If you can think of a good reason, let me know in the comments, because I can’t think of a single one.