Police in England, Wales taking ‘excessive’ mobile data during investigations: Report

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Police in England and Wales are taking “excessive” amounts of data from smartphones during investigations, according to a report issued by the country’s Information Commissioner's Office.

“An approach that does not seek this engagement risks dissuading citizens from reporting crime, and victims may be deterred from assisting police. I am therefore calling on government to introduce modern rules, through a code of practice that improves data extraction practices,” UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham wrote in the introduction of the report.

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The report released on Friday recognized that the data extraction from mobile phones can be an essential tool in ensuring offenders can be brought to justice but concluded that the practice “can be highly intrusive into individuals’ private lives and has the potential to impact significant numbers of people not involved in the investigation.”

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Specifically, the report investigated the use of mobile phone extraction practice in cases of sexual assault and rape cases and allegations. It said that a broad consensus across society, government and the police and justice sector found believed that there were concerns regarding the management of data extracted had undermined the progression of cases while it went through the criminal justice system.

Denham proposed the creation of a national consortium of relevant public agencies and groups to work together toward introducing modern rules and a codified system to improve on mobile data extraction practices.

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