Applications are being used to access a phone’s SMS data as well as its GPS logs to help police track and locate the phone, as well as gather phone numbers and email addresses of the phone owner’s contacts. This can provide valuable information during the course of an investigation and other applications that have internet permissions can provide information contained in the phone’s memory as well as data from the Wi-Fi network in use.
Additional applications can be used to harvest the information and send it to a server for storage for use later in investigations. There are only certain Android phones that are susceptible to this type of information sharing, and since it can be done without the permission of the owner, has raised concerns about the individual’s privacy. Android police studies have developed applications that can do just this and without deleting specific applications from the phone’s root system, have little recourse.
Essentially, law enforcement with the right application can access the affected cell phones to retrieve information about where the user has been, where they currently are and who they have contacted, either by calling them or texting. Additionally, they can take that information and send it to a remote server for safe keeping and use it in police investigations.
As many proponents of this type of technology use have stated in the past that if someone isn’t involved in illegal activity they have nothing to worry about, while others fear that the availability of the information could be used to drum up charges against them without the appropriate safeguards in place to protect their privacy.
However, police can use the applications to help fight crime by being able to keep track of suspects by using their virtual eyes available by accessing the GPS tracking systems. They can also determine if they are in contact with other known criminals and their whereabouts to help them stop crime before it happens.
The Android Police unit uncovered an application on some of the phones sold by HTC that contain an application that allows outside users to access the phone’s server and all of the information it contains. It is this application that law enforcement can use as a weapon against crime and it could reduce the number of wanted suspects left roaming the streets since the application can access their GPS location.
The manufacturer points out that the application can be removed from the phone’s root system and is working on a patch to render it inoperable. However, the manufacturer while questioning the security issue is continuing to work on a permanent solution to the phone’s alleged security flaw without the need to root the phone. Owners who do choose that route could end up voiding the phone’s warranty, giving police more time to take advantage of the information they can access before the flaw is fixed.
Article written by a TechPatio reader.