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Police Digital Service wants new tech to extract data from mobile devices


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Police Digital Service (PDS) is aiming to develop new approaches to the extraction of data from mobile devices to support investigations.

The effort is being made as part of its Digital Forensics Programme (DFP), with the aim making it possible to extract information selectively while minimising intrusion and disruption for the victims and witnesses of crimes.

PDS has highlighted the initiative through IT industry association techUK, with an invitation with potential suppliers to contribute to early discussions on the development.

It says that current off-the-shelf digital forensics tools typically extract large quantities of data, much of irrelevant, from devices. This can cause distress to victims and witnesses, especially when their device is taken away for prolonged periods.

Pros and cons

“DFP are keen to understand the pros and cons of any proposed approaches, the applicability and sustainability of the approach to the diverse and rapidly changing mobile device applications market, and the feasibility of applying the approach to frontline digital forensic tools that can be automated and require minimal training,” the invitation says.

It also highlights the relevance of apps such as WhatsApp and Messenger, and that any solution would have to work for iOS and Android devices.

The initiative follows the publication by the College of Policing of guidance on how police officers can lawfully extract information from electronic devices, and indications from the Government that it plans to update the relevant code of practice.


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