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Electronic Surveillance of Mobile Devices: Understanding the Mobile Ecosystem and Applicable Surveillance Law

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2015
65 pages
After discussing the challenges faced by law enforcement agencies in using data collected from the mobile ecosystem, this study describes a prototype tool developed to assist law enforcement, commercial entities, and policy analysts in improving their understanding of the types of data that exist in the mobile ecosystem and the legislative mandates that govern law enforcement agencies' use of such data.
Mobile phones, the networks to which they connect, the applications they use, and the services they access collect and retain enormous amounts of information that can be useful in criminal investigations; however, law enforcement agencies face two challenges when accessing these data: 1) maintaining their knowledge of the sources and nature of commercial data available to investigators and 2) determining the legal requirements for accessing these data. In addition to exploring these issues, this report describes the development of a prototype tool - the Mobile Information and Knowledge Ecosystem (MIKE) - which can assist law enforcement, commercial entities, and policy analysts in exploring the mobile ecosystem and understanding the laws governing law enforcement's acquisition of data from this ecosystem. This tool might also provide a means for sharing best practices in electronic surveillance. MIKE was constructed by using semantic mediawiki, an extension to the software used to operate Wikopedia. MIKE is interactive and designed so that new information can be added by users, thus maintaining currency of information. The tool can also be used to acquire updated information on laws governing law enforcement's accession of data maintained by the mobile ecosystem. This report also identifies a number of plausible options for keeping MIKE relevant and up to date. Future research could analyze these options and identify an approach that will support further development of the prototype tool. 8 figures, 2 tables, 47 references, and appended supplementary material

Date Published: December 1, 2015