Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fox News First to Report CMPD's Use of Cellebrite? (not really)

The story was the lead item on the Thursday evening news at Fox Charlotte. The lead in by Morgan Forgerty came with the usual "first and only" on Fox catch phrases.

Charlotte, N.C. -- A YouTube video promotes the products available from a company called Cellebrite. Their technology can break password protection on 8-thousand different cell phone models and tablets. Investigators can extract existing and deleted information including phone calls, text messages, contacts, photos and video.

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department has the system. Cellebrite's C.E.O. Jim Grady wouldn't reveal the details of the contract but he says the Charlotte program is typical."We give police a powerful tool just like any other tool that the police department uses," Grady said. Grady said rules for gathering evidence are set by their communities.

CMPD Spokesman Rob Tufano said "The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department always obtains a court order in compliance with state and federal law before tracking mobile phones except in cases involving exigent circumstances."

The A.C.L.U. has been looking into the information cell phone companies give to police. They are seeking ways to safeguard against abuse of our constitutional right to privacy. "Things like who you're talking to and what you're talking about those are enormously personal and we need to make sure that information isn't out there being freely exchanged," said A.C.L.U. of N.C. Spokesman Mike Meno.

Tufano said they'll provide more details about Cellebrite on Thursday.

But City News Watch had the story two months ago.


Should police be permitted to download all of that data in under a minute ½ just because you were, say, pulled for speeding?  Stopped at a “Checkpoint”? Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department has spent tens of thousands of dollars with a company called Cellebrite that sells devices which do exactly that. 

There is no known policy in place for how such a device would be used, but citynewswatch would like to hear from CMPD if that is incorrect.  Cellebrite literature explains that their devices can break password protection, work on over 3000 different models of mobile equipment and can 'Complete extraction of existing, hidden, and deleted phone data, including call history, text messages, contacts, images, and geotags.'

The DOJ has tested the device to accomplish download of all phone, text, photo, and video in under 1 ½ minutes from mobile devices.

An ordinance passed by City Council on March 8, 2010, just prior to the Cellebrite expenditures totaling $25,000 against funds converted from Asset Forfeiture Funds to Public Safety Grant 4386-x.  

There is no explanation except “various programs and equipment” for $370,000.  Compare this to the kind of detail other cities provide to the public and even to what Charlotte did a few years earlier, and the secrecy in police and other spending should raise alarm bells. 

Cedar's Take: Blogs like CNW and CP spend countless hours pointing and clicking, digging through miles of data seeking the truth. We know the local media feeds off the blogs and at the same time completely refuses to offer so much as a hat tip for our efforts.

In this case CNW did all the ground work, all Kris Kirkland had to do was call Cellebrite and email CMPD. It would have been nice, not to mention professional to acknowledge the source.

Cedar Update: Seems more than a few people miss the point of this post. First Fox News Charlotte clearly used information found on Charlotte News Watch to develop their story without so much as a casual mention.

Second, CMPD dropped a large chunk of change without any oversight from Charlotte City Council, by simply calling it "Various Programs".

Third, The big brother aspect of the Cellebrite contract wasn't the point.

But calling me Paranoid? Seriously? 

I know the old line, "if you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about".  But as we have seen overzealous law enforcement, and being the wrong place at the wrong time, add some vague evidence and suddenly you are a suspect.

We have a constitution that protects us from unreasonable search.

Scanning your cell phone or iPad for text messages or your latest tweet to build a case against you crosses that line. How many times have you sent a text or tweet only receive back a "huh?"

As Americans we have an expectation of privacy, cameras, drones and downloading your tweets and text messages goes against the most basic of our rights. Privacy.


Anonymous said...

Too funny. It doesn't work if your "devices" are turned off.

Anonymous said...

Do you really think your info is pulled for speeding or other traffic offenses? It's pulled for specific crimes. Wake up people and look at what you are eating before you swallow.

Anonymous said...

How do you know when the data will be pulled??

Anonymous said...

What do you think they have to gain by pulling it? Looking at how much porn you are surfing? The texts you are sending? Pretty paranoid people.

Anonymous said...

I don't know who's worse for blowing things out of proportion- CP or the " liberal news media". Maybe it's time to get off the boat in Charleston and out of the sun for a while to detox?

Anonymous said...

Blowing things out of proportion? the point in this story is that it was taken from citynewswatch,reported as "first and only" by Fox and no credit was given to their sourse (CNW). That is stealing, and it is terrible.

Anonymous said...

oops...source. sorry

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:30

What do they have to gain?

Don't be naive.

Information is power, and it seems many, many are power hungry,AND lack ethics and integrity, so giving them access to this kind of info could and will have bad results.

A real invasion of privacy.

Anonymous said...

Ask any defense lawyer if they think it's okay to turn over every detail of your private life and all work and personal files over to the police to store.

If you're okay giving up your privacy, just send the police all your passwords and a key to your house.

Anonymous said...

Cybercrime criminals, drug traffickers, and child pornographers are just a few criminals who use computers and cell phones for criminal activity. Why is it hard to believe a large police department would have technology to investigate this? No one is downloading phones on a routine traffic stop. There are also laws in place already dictating 4th amendment rights regarding cell phones and computers.

Anonymous said...

Like wire taps on land lines, procedures must be in place to prevent abuse.

How do you know who and WHEN information is being used? Are you SURE no one is downloading phones on a "routine traffic stop"?

Do you really believe those "laws in place" will prevent abuse of the information?

Once again, don't be naive.

Anonymous said...

7:41 are you answering for CMPD policy? Who are you? Where is the SOP for using Cellebrite?

Anonymous said...

If nobody were doing it, Turfano would have said so clearly and quickly.

He hedged, told Fox 18 (who "broke" the story 2 months after citynewswatch) he would give more information today, then didn't give them any more information today on how it's used. Of course, they took that answer.

Anonymous said...

You people are freaking ridiculous. Your sexting and porn surfing wont come to light after a simple traffic stop or even basic arrest. Now, if your a drug dealer, or conspiring to commit a felony, than yeah, your phone is open season. The rest of you are either fear mongers or scared little girls who are going to need one of these horrible cmpd officers that you tallk trash about when the wolf comes knocking. And if you are still scared of the bad police man searching your phone then maybe we need to look into you.

Anonymous said...

wow, officer, you sound like you have an anger problem.

the blogs have been very supportive of police acting the right way. do you want romo and crew doing what he wants unchecked?

you are confusing privacy with criminals. that's what fearmongers do to keep people from asking questions about liberty and practices. that'll be fine with you until it affects you personally, I guess.

there are plenty of legal ways for you to do your job and use tools to catch criminals

Anonymous said...

I think you are missing Cedar's point. RoMo is spending like a drunken sailor with little oversight and no real plan.

Don't you think that $300,000.00 should have been used to offset our med insurance increase or maybe just a little of it could have been used for a pay raise? Just maybe?

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:37
Your thinking is screwed up.

What the hell does sexting and porn surfing have to do with this privacy issue? You must be the only one doing it as you are the only one talking about it.

This is straight up about invasion of privacy and abuse of power...period.

And it should concern all rational people.

And people here and on other Blogs support and appreciate cops.

Just not corrupt cops that abuse their power.

Anonymous said...

If you think $300,000 is even close enough to offset anything i encourage you to check your math. And i have no fear of them checking my phone because i am not breaking any laws so yeah, totally fine with it, and no anger, here, i actually laugh out loud when i read these uneducated posts. And if somehow this cost does offset our med ins im still ok with it since its being used to convict child predators and violent offenders. A trade im ok with.

Anonymous said...

Morgan Fogarty. Anytime you lead off saying it comes out of the mouth of that fat broad (and yes I know she's pregnant) I immediately tune out. That dame is totally useless.

Anonymous said...

4:33 is correct. Support all the great cops.

Speak up to stop abuse of power.

And privacy is a right of law-abiding citizens.

Anonymous said...

Ok, Anon 4:37,
Let's have the transparent stats on exactly how many sex offenders and child molesters this "catches".

Anonymous said...

Funny, when I was stopped I was not asked about my phone...strange because according to some of you my information is taken during these stops. Do they have one of those ray gun dealies that suck it out without me knowing? Oh Lordy lord, what do we do? Know your rights retards, cannot take information without your consent and if they are downloading your phone I'm betting they have a good reason to do it. Anon 4:33, when is the last time you had an officer take your phone? I'm betting never and your just reacting to a piece of information without the entire story or all the facts of the case. Typical moron

Anonymous said...

Again, what are the stats on effectiveness of actually catching anyone?

All this money spent and no actual empirical data to support the argument of effectiveness?

As usual the real MORONS are quick to support their cohorts companies by buying blindly.

Rodney and his pals just love to spend money on flash and trash, with no real understanding of the "product".

Anonymous said...

I bet those that had access would use it for things such as if they thought their spouse/girlfriend was cheating. There are all kinds of reasons someone might want to access this system that have nothing to do with crimes mentioned above.

Anonymous said...

remember those detectives in 2008 that were assisting that dealer. not sure exactly what they were charged with, but they probably would have loved having access to this system when that was going on.

Garth Vader said...

>> Cybercrime criminals, drug traffickers, and child pornographers >> use computers and cell phones for criminal activity.

They also drive cars, own cameras, and eat carrots. Let's ban all that shit too.

Anonymous said...

OK yes your exactly right, cmpd is searching everyones phones and computers. You should be very afraid. So afraid, i hope you move out of this town and take the rest of the liberal fear mongers with you. Until then, ill be checkking your speed with my radar gun in one hand and checking your phone and laptop with my invasion of privacy gun in the other.
your a clown and therefore make me laugh.

Anonymous said...

Geez, Anon 4:44.... Learn how to spell, and punctuate.

And the correct word is you're, NOT your, a CONTRACTION of you and are.

You're the clown...

Anonymous said...

Sorry could care less about grammar when im typing on my phone. But, thats all you got?

Anonymous said...

No, got a lot more, but it would just go right over your angry little pointed why bother?

And really, bad grammar is the least of your problems.

Anonymous said...

Another homicide last night.

That has got to be 25 or more.

And Henson says it's a dangerous situation.....really?

As bad as he is, just let Tufano be the "spokesperson" he is being paid well to be...what does he do anyhow? I mean besides tote rodney's umbrella, drive him, get him coffee, etc? Besides, I thought that is what Ricky Robbins is also getting paid extremely well for, better than when he was driving a school bus!

Anonymous said...

7:08, yep thats it. Resort to anger and name calling instead of sticking to the point of the debate. Seems like you have the anger issue.
once again, LOL at you.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:12
I am sure" pointy head" is the very least objectionable "name" you have been called. I am just as sure "dumbass" is number one on the list...LOL at you....seriously, who says that?

I am GIVING you the last word ,take it and go back to the playgound.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Its OK, I already know who you are after using our really expensive privacy infringing software scanning device.


Anonymous said...

How did Cellebrite work to prevent last night's homicide?

Anonymous said...

This blog has become pointless.

Anonymous said...

Go away, Rob.

Pointless to whom?

Not to the people who work at CMPD, I can assure you of that.

I hear from my friends there every day that they are grateful the Blogs are there as thay are the only way the underbelly of CMPD is exposed.

citynewswatch said...

Thanks to Cedar for this post after Fox 18 “broke” their second “First on Fox” story in as many weeks by taking a Citynewswatch story and claiming for themselves as a first run. They did add a comment from Tufano that was as helpful as usual.

Fox’s stories are directly and exclusively Citynewswatch research and material, produced and written, that was not credited.
The point of both the LPR story and the Cellebrite material is the lack of public debate or even knowledge and the lack of oversight for the intrusive privacy issues.

Tufano’s statements given to Fox about the DNC are not relevant since CMPD has admitted the LPR’s are already in use, and since Citynewswatch revealed the Cellebrite devices (that are known so far) were have been in use for years, but Fox was in too much of a hurry to put the stories they took on air to do research or reflect on the material to follow up.

Anonymous said...

If we look at the 2007 cmpd expenses and compare those to this years expenses to determine the percent of increase, I think we should at least be able to expect a decrease in crime by that amount. If expenses increased by 50% from 2007, crime should have decreased by atleast 50%. If not they are not spending wisely. clearly.

jeff a. taylor said...

This thread nutshells why I'm glad to be shed of CLT.

First, the CLT legacy media are useless. Not so much the reporters, who I THINK know right from wrong, but the NDs and higher who live in 1960 and are terrified of Center City Partners. Tom Roussey was the one guy with the stones to consistently credit blogs and, oh, look, he's in DC now. Cream always rises.

(BTW, that Rotney piece from the UPoR a few weeks back was a disgrace -- his critics are NOT secret. But MNI is a lost cause.)

Second, to my CMPD LEOs -- aren't you tired of this? The lies and the coverups? To my mind it started with a New Year's Eve brawl in Uptown that involved some NYPD guys a few years back. Dude went to the hospital for macking on the wrong gal at the same time these guys were looking to blow off an ill-timed layover. Complete blackout.

As I've said before, I can put up with a lot of dysfunction, but a basic rule of law breakdown goes far beyond that.

Too much? Prove me wrong -- who shot Antonio Stukes?

casual reader said...

Wow...doesn't this Anonymous guy (gal) get tired of posting to himself (herself?

Anonymous said...

This is still the best story, really?