Trustworthy and Useful Tools for Mobile Phone Extraction

Personal mobile phones can be a valuable repository of information about a user’s geographical movements, communications behaviours and online browsing history. For that reason, they are increasingly used as a source of evidence in criminal investigations. In the Mobile Phone Extraction (MPE) process, copies are made of a device belonging to a suspect, victim or witness and the data extracted is examined by police and others in the criminal justice system over the course of the ongoing investigation.

This extraction and use of personal digital data can provide important evidence to secure criminal convictions but also raises significant concerns because:

  • The analysis process is slow and resource intensive
  • There is an absence of usable and accessible digital forensics tools to support MPE
  • Extracting and reviewing an individual’s digital mobile phone data represents a significant invasion of privacy that risks causing harm to individuals and further distress to victims and witnesses of crime
  • Mismanagement of MPE data collection and handling has led to the collapse of cases and undermines trust in the criminal justice system

As a result of the above issues there is currently a crisis of trust and practice in MPE. This project will address this crisis by undertaking activities that support development of a platform for MPE that is both trustworthy and useful. To achieve this we are partnering with experts in software development (Telemarq) and digital forensics (Hargs Solutions). We will also undertake extensive stakeholder engagement with groups involved in, and affected by, the MPE process to identify ways to foster responsibility in mobile phone extraction.

This project runs from 1 April 2023 – 30 June 2024