One of the data extraction devices made by Cellebrite and used by the Michigan State Police.

(Credit: Cellebrite)

The Michigan State Police today fired back at claims that it has been using handheld machines called "extraction devices" to download personal information from motorists they pull over, even if they're not suspected of any crime.

The American Civil Liberties Union last week said it was petitioning the MSP to release information regarding the use of portable devices that "can be used to secretly extract personal information from cell phones during routine stops." The devices can reportedly download text messages, photos, video, and GPS data from most brands of cell phones. In its statement, the ACLU said it has been attempting to get more information about these devices for three years.

Now, the police department says claims about how it uses the so-called data extraction devices, or DEDs, are off-base.

"The MSP only uses the DEDs if a search warrant is obtained or if the person possessing the mobile device gives consent," it said in a statement. "The DEDs are not being used to extract citizens' personal information during routine traffic stops."

As for secret collection of data, the police said, "The MSP does not possess DEDs that can extract data without the officer actually possessing the owner's mobile device. The DEDs utilized by the MSP cannot obtain information from mobile devices without the mobile device owner knowing."

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