The Michigan chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and police in the state are at legal odds over the police use of cell phone hacking devices during routine traffic stops. In addition to asking for license and registration during routine traffic stops, Michigan police are often asking the driver to hand over their cell phone and then the cell phone
is connected to a hacking device which the ACLU claims is a violation of the 4th Amendment.
The Michigan police agencies defend the use of the cell phone hacking device, claiming that if a person freely offers the cell phone upon request, then no search warrant is required. However, upon a quick search with the cell phone hacking device, a person could easily find themselves arrested and charged with some serious crimes if police think that a person might have been involved in some sort of illegal activity or at some home or location where past illegal activity might be suspected.
The cell phone hacking device immediately breaks down any password protections and allows police access to any bank account, personal photos, web surfing, Emails or any other uses of cell phones.
The serious issue here is that most of persons who have had their cell phones hacked by police have not even been suspected of any crime, where the routine traffic stop now becomes a sort of fishing expedition to look for anything to bring charges against the public. And when the ACLU filed a freedom of information act request to determine exactly what information the police are extracting from drivers during these routine traffic stops, police in Michigan attempted to bill the ACLU $544, 680 to bankrupt the local ACLU and to silence them.
So far, this new police practice appears to be limited to the state of Michigan, however at some point the ACLU will likely file a lawsuit seeking a court opinion on the legality of the new practice.
This new legal situation brings up the serious legal questions where the legitimate limits of public safety and law enforcement should be vs. a slippery slope of new technology giving government broad new powers to enforce a creeping police state on the public.