LulzSec docs show Ariz. cops' unhealthy obsession with iPhone

Street cops advised to search for phones, check for apps that might record them

cop-290x218.jpgflickr/Perfecto Insecto

The interesting thing about the claim by hactivist/attention-whore LulzSec's hack of the Arizona state police isn't the successful breach, or even that the documents it posted include way more files marked as secret than you'd expect in an honest state agency.

It's not even that LulzSec posted the names and home addresses of top Arizona law-enforcement officials.

It's how nervous those officials about iPhone apps that could help citizens avoid speed traps, secretly record encounters with police officers or erase themselves after being confiscated by police.

[Also see: We owe LulzSec a 'thank you']

A document labeled "iphone apps- used against officers.doc" front-line officers encourages officers making an arrest to search for iPhones or other smartphones and look specifically to see what apps are running on them.

Specifically the document warns that an app called Cop Recorder can be activated while the phone is in a suspect's pocket to record what happens during an arrest, then upload the audio to a network server beyond the officer's reach.

The document, picked out of the background noise by Time's TechLand, is classified as "Law Enforcement Sensitive," meaning it shouldn't be distributed outside the DPS – Arizona's state umbrella agency for law enforcement. (The torrent for the docs is here; LulzSec's announcement about it is here.)

Another document warned about remote-wipe capabilities in iOS v. 3, and recommends arresting officers isolate phones from radio signals in a Farraday bag or "some other nickel, copper and silver plated storage container (see figure 3). The device must be protected from any wireless connection/radio signal even throughout the forensic imaging process."

Cop Recorder is distributed by OpenWatch, a grassroots "citizen media project" that encourages the use of technology to monitor the behavior of public officials.

Among the group's major concerns: law enforcers who will go to great lengths to keep their behavior from being documented and recorded by anyone but themselves.

It cites cases such as the New Jersey high schooler (junior class president and 16-year-old overachiever) riding the bus home from school who was arrested for refusing to stop using her phone to video police boarding the bus to help a passenger who had collapsed.

Constitutional law experts consistently opine that it is a blatant violation of the First Amendment to confiscate a phone or arrest someone for recording events happening in public where there are no other restrictions on the person's presence

Basically, if it's legal for you to be standing where you're standing, you can record or video anything you can see or hear from that position. You may not be able to broadcast it for profit without permission from the people in it, but you can record it and introduce it as legal evidence in court without being harassed or arrested for it.

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Police keep getting more sensitive about it, though, some going so far as the April incident in which a Vallejo, Calif. Man was arrested inside his house for using a cell phone to record a an arrest he could see through the window.

To the Arizona DPS' credit, not all the iPhone stuff was about not being recorded.

Contact information, call logs, GPS logs and other information stored on the phone can be legitimate evidence if the arrest is made properly and police have a warrant or subpoena allowing them to pull information from a suspect's phone.

The contradictory part is the paranoia among some in law enforcement about having their behavior recorded, while pressing in courts and during arrests for unfettered access to a suspect's property to search for evidence, or the right to run intrusive surveillance on citizens without enough evidence to show a judge who could give them a warrant for doing so.

If you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't worry about being searched or surveilled, yes?

Luckily, a couple of thousand years after the Roman Juvenal used the line "who will watch the watchmen?" to express concern about the abuse of power, we finally have an answer (and so do Arizona police): Apple will watch them.

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