May 192012
 May 19, 2012  Posted by  Non-U.S., Surveillance

Clearly I am not a fan of all the U.S. states that have expanded DNA collection to include arrestees who are not even charged with felonies, much less convicted.  But the problems are not just in the U.S. The Metropolitan Police Service in the U.K. has seemingly joined the ranks of expanding warrantless surveillance. Glyn Moody writes on TechDirt:

As the mobile phone moves closer to the center of daily life in many parts of the world, combining phone, computer, camera, diary, music player, and much else all in one, it becomes a concentrated store of the digital DNA that defines us — who we talk to, what we search for, who we meet, what we listen to. However convenient that may be for us as users, it’s also extremely dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands.

Unfortunately, in the UK, it looks like London’s police force must now join the list of “wrong hands”:

The Metropolitan Police has implemented a system to extract mobile phone data from suspects held in custody.

The data includes call history, texts and contacts, and the BBC has learned that it will be retained regardless of whether any charges are brought.

Read more on TechDirt.

Sky News Australia adds:

An ICO spokesperson says ‘whilst we are not aware of this particular development, any personal information taken from an individual’s phone or other possessions and then held by the police during an investigation would have to comply with the Data Protection Act’.

Surely this type of thing should be considered a human rights and privacy violation in any civilized society. Given how much personal and sensitive information people may maintain on their phones, it’s time for the public to insist that law enforcement be held to a probable cause standard before being allowed to search or collect information – regardless of whether it is phone data or DNA.

Enough is enough.

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