Racine County, WI Editorial: The Cellebrite and its threat to your constitutional rights

We’re all for giving law enforcement the tools necessary to do their jobs quickly and efficiently within the law.

And we’re all for protecting the constitutional rights of citizens, particularly when it comes to protections against unreasonable search and seizures under the Fourth Amendment. That goes for homes and apartments, vehicles and, yes, smartphones, cellphones and tablets that carry a vast array of personal information.

We raise these issues today because the Racine County Sheriff’s Office just got permission to add a new device to its law enforcement arsenal — a Cellebrite, a device developed in Israel, and it’s a jim-dandy.

The Cellebrite, a small portable device, can crack open the records and data on a cellphone or other device in minutes and clone it into the hands of law enforcement. That could include the phone or tablet’s call activity, phone book information, stored voicemails and text messages, photos and videos, passwords, apps and geolocation information that show where the device has been. Yes, it could even be used to find hidden and deleted phone data.