New police equipment for mobile research

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Cyber ​​kiosk technology gives police the ability to ignore passwords on cell phones

The technology that allows police to collect data from some cell phones or tablets without using a password will be launched on Monday.

Scottish police spent more than £ 500,000 on the purchase of 41 desktop machines that take precedence over device encryption.

The move has already been delayed due to concerns that the technology may be illegal.

The force insisted that the devices would significantly speed up the investigation.

Telephones now form an important part of criminal investigations and forensic experts in Scotland examine around 15,000 of them annually.

Police devices – known as “cyber kiosks” – will connect to phones or tablets and trained operators will then search for information relevant to an investigation.

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Scotland police

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Officials can choose which types of data they want to access

Only the information contained in the devices, such as messages on social media or call logs, is accessible by Police Scotland and the force claims that all the registers of the acquired data are deleted after an examination.

Deputy Head of Agency Malcolm Graham said: “The increase in digital device involvement in investigations means that the demand for digital forensic exams is higher than ever.

“The current limitations, however, mean that the devices of victims, witnesses and suspects can be taken for months at a time, even if it later transpires that there is no valid evidence about them.

“By quickly identifying the devices that contain and do not contain evidence, we can minimize intrusion into people’s lives and provide better service to the public.”

The force released a video to explain more about the new devices to the public.

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Scotland police

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Officers were trained in the use of the new equipment

The seized units that will be examined by the police will include those voluntarily handed over by victims and witnesses, as well as those obtained under the authority of a judicial warrant, statutory power or following the arrest of a suspect.

‘Dropped below the standard’

The technology was first tested in both Edinburgh and Stirling in 2016 using phones and SIM cards that had been legally seized by first-line officers.

However, this was subject to criticism, including from Holyrood’s Justice Subcommittee, after members of the public emerged whose phones were seized and searched were not informed that they were taking part in the trial.

Scottish police have since “acknowledged that previous trials have fallen below the standard that would be expected from the service”, but force said that concerns over the use of personal data have been the subject of “extensive consultations and checks. “.

It is hoped that the full launch of the devices, which has seen 410 front-line officers trained on how to use them, will be completed by May.

Numerous groups, including the Scottish Human Rights Commission and Privacy International, have argued that the legal basis for examining devices has not been sufficiently clarified.

Clare Connelly, of the Faculty of Lawyers, previously stated that she did not believe that the technology complies with European law.

Scottish police said these concerns have been addressed.

Separately, the Crown Office and an independent senior consultant claimed that there is a legal basis for the use of cyber kiosks.

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