There have been a lot of stories in the last few months questioning Android’s security as a platform. But when it came time for FBI investigators to look through an accused pimp’s Android phone, they were rendered helpless by the pattern lock that’s been part of the OS for years. After failing to break into the phone itself, they’ve submitted a subpoena to Google for the suspect’s username and password, in order to make their case in federal court.
It’s important to note that the investigators have a warrant for the data on suspect Dante Dears’ phone, even though they don’t technically need one. (In many jurisdictions, arresting authorities can make a cursory examination of your cell phone or computer if they’re on your person when arrested. Breaking through PINs, passwords or other security usually necessitates a warrant.) Apparently the FBI tried the good old-fashioned guessing game enough times to lock down the phone (20 unsuccessful patterns), and now require Google’s help to get access to Dears’ data. Dears isn’t cooperating, and Google hasn’t responded to the subpoena yet.
The FBI is after quite a lot of data, including some that Google may not have. In addition to the account email and password, they’re hoping for a Social Security number (don’t they already know that?), a contact list, all email accounts accessed from the phone, every web page visited with time and duration, all search terms and GPS logs, and “Verbal and/or written instructions for overriding the ‘pattern lock’ installed on the phone”. Despite the fact that Google doesn’t necessarily log all that information, it may not hold up in court, either; the FBI is likely “fishing” for any and all information they might be able to use to further their case.
Android Community wishes to make it clear that we don’t support Dante Dears or his actions. The FBI has a warrant for the information, so more power to them. But if you’ve got something you son’t want others to see, it looks like Android’s pattern lock is a good way to make sure they don’t.
[via Ars Technica]