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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 200019 Find in a Library
Title: More Than a Cell Phone
Journal: Law Enforcement Technology  Volume:30  Issue:4  Dated:April 2003  Pages:82,84,86
Author(s): Christa Miller
Date Published: April 2003
Page Count: 4
Type: Technical Assistance
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses the use of cellular phones in criminal investigation.
Abstract: Cellular phones are now using wireless modems to communicate with the Internet; allow users to “chat” electronically; and store their contents on removable media, transferable from phone to phone. Technology is advancing so rapidly that law enforcement cannot keep up. Cell phone forensics is different from personal digital assistants (PDAs) because each cell phone manufacturer has its own operating system while PDAs almost universally use Palm OS or Windows CE. This makes forensic examinations much easier. Cell phone hardware doesn’t vary much from phone to phone. Criminals are using their cell phones in the commission of their crimes and also committing cell phone crimes. This includes theft and “cloning” -- duplicating legitimate cell phone users’ identities in order to use their service. Cloning is less of an issue since cell phones started to use digital rather than analog technology. Because cloning is a criminal offense, repeat offenders may try to mask their behavior using “disposable” phones. The users buy minutes with no credit check or billing requirements and when time runs out they are disconnected. Because there is no standard way to prove an investigator didn’t tamper with a cell phone’s memory, the best course of action is to use it only for leads, not in court. The most useful information is the phone’s contact list or “phone book.” Conventional investigative procedure can still apply, permitting some cell phone evidence in court. The real “footprints” in cell phone usage are not found in the hardware, but rather in the computer servers of providers. They have the ability to track every number called, e-mail sent or received, photos attached, and all time stamps. These records are able to be audited and will hold up to forensic scrutiny. Many service providers do not want to work with law enforcement and believe they need a subpoena even if they are victims.
Main Term(s): Investigative techniques; Telephone equipment
Index Term(s): Communications; Criminal investigation; Telecommunications; Telephone communications; Transmissions; Voice communications
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