WASHINGTON (UPI) — The FBI applied for a search warrant ordering Google to crack open a screen-locked Android phone seized in an investigation, a security researcher says.
The affidavit applying for a search warrant asks Google to “provide law enforcement with any and all means of gaining access, including log-in and password information, password reset, and/or manufacturer default code (“PUK”), in order to obtain the complete contents of the memory” of a confiscated phone, researcher Christopher Soghoian said.
The smartphone was apparently seized from Dante Dears, allegedly a founding member of a California street gang who is suspected of violating his parole by running a prostitution ring, TGDaily.com reported.
“We do not know if Google has complied with the request,” Soghoian wrote in a security blog post. “Given that an unlocked smartphone will continue to receive text messages and new e-mails (transmitted after the device was first seized), one could reasonably argue that the government should have to obtain a wiretap order in order to unlock the phone.”
The number of U.S. government requests for data on Google users has increased considerably, Google said.
Various government agencies sent 5,950 criminal investigation requests for data on Google users and services from Jan. 1-June 30, 2011, compared to 4,601 requests from July 1-Dec. 31, 2010, it said.