The ICO is Concerned that Police Forces are Extracting Excessive Amounts of Data from Phones

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“Police forces ought to put into action measures to guarantee that cell cellular phone information is managed in accordance with information protection legislation”

An investigation by the Facts Commissioner’s Business (ICO) has discovered that law enforcement forces in England and Wales are extracting “excessive” quantities of particular information from cell phones and are storing it in a fashion that is at odds with information protection rules.

Pursuing an investigation into the method regarded as Mobile Mobile phone Extraction (MPE) the information watchdog said it is concerned that law enforcement forces exhibited ‘poor practice’ when they take care of sensitive facts that has been taken from cell phones.

A crucial concern of the ICO pursuing a restricted investigation of a selection of law enforcement forces is that there is no “systematic solution to justifying privacy intrusion”. The ICO is fearful that these intrusion into the public’s non-public information, without authentic justifications, will have a significant effect on specifications of compliance and operate the risk that community confidence could be undermined.

Facts Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “Many of our rules have been enacted in advance of the cellular phone technology that we use currently was even considered about. The present rules that implement in this region are a blend of common law, statute law and statutory codes of practice.

“I discovered that the image is elaborate and are unable to be seen entirely by the lens of information protection. As this report would make obvious, a total-of-procedure solution is needed to increase privacy protection even though accomplishing authentic prison justice aims.”

The Legislation

A common of policing was set out in 1829 by Sir Robert Peel who was attempting to define an moral law enforcement drive and place forward the concepts which ought to govern their actions. Peel stated that law enforcement forces ought to “maintain the respect and approval” of the community and search for cooperation when enforcing the law.

The ICO is concerned that now the law does not “strictly require” that law enforcement forces consider “proper account” of information privacy and protection when information is extracted from cell phones.

The ICO’s investigation discovered that: “The noticed law enforcement procedures increase the risk of arbitrary intrusion and effect specifications of compliance when processing particular information extracted from cell units. This improves the risk that community confidence could be undermined.”

Elizabeth Denham added: “People hope to realize how their particular information is staying employed, regardless of the authorized basis for processing. My concern is that an solution that does not search for this engagement threats dissuading citizens from reporting crime, and victims may perhaps be deterred from aiding law enforcement.”


In its report the ICO has laid out 13 recommendations to remedy the current scenario and authorized imbalance when law enforcement forces carry out cell cellular phone information extractions. Acknowledging the complexity of the difficulty the Commissioner is contacting for the introduction of clearer procedures and a statutory code of practice.

The regulator notes that the specifications of Consent when it applies to information protection conditions is ‘deliberately tough.’

The report states: “This is to guarantee that the personal has significant alternative and handle over how their information is employed. The investigation discovered that the procedures staying adopted presently did not always display the problems needed for Consent to be legitimate.”

It asks that the Crown Prosecution Company and the Lawyer General’s Business ‘collaborate’ so that there is a far more reliable solution when authorising information extractions.

The experiences seventh advice highlights its concern for privacy intrusion and bluntly as it states that: “Police forces ought to put into action measures to guarantee that cell cellular phone information is managed in accordance with information protection laws and retained no for a longer time than essential.”

The ICO has discovered that the technology employed by law enforcement forces to extract cell cellular phone information requires to be update and that any future technology procurements ought to regarded privacy considerations in their design.

Elizabeth Denham stated that: “While the operate needed to put into action my recommendations will have to not drop by the wayside, I am acutely informed that this report is issued at a time of unprecedented problems flowing from the COVID-19 pandemic. I for that reason accept that the timeline for transform will be for a longer time than standard, but I am keen that we begin to make development as quickly as practicable, and I am committed to supporting that operate at all levels.”

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