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Police Scan Fingerprints in WhatsApp Photo to Arrest Drug Dealers
[Image: police-scan-fingerprints-in-whatsapp-pho...ealers.jpg]

Quote:Eleven people convicted thanks to photo stored on phone

The South Wales police department managed to convict no less than 11 drug dealers based on fingerprint data collected from a WhatsApp photo.

As part of the investigations, cops seized and examined a phone used by one of the suspects, only to discover a photo that was sent on WhatsApp and showing just a part of a man’s hand holding what seemed to be ecstasy tablets.

Police officers then compared the fingerprint in the photo with the one of the suspect to discover a perfect match and then expand the investigations to eventually convict 10 other people.

Furthermore, after closely inspecting the phone, which apparently wasn’t protected by a password, police found several messages which indicated the owner was involved in selling drugs.

“It had a number of texts such as, ‘What do you want to buy?’ on it,” Dave Thomas of South Wales Police told the BBC. “There was then the photograph of the hand holding pills that seemed like it was sent to potential customers saying, ‘These are my wares, I’m selling these’.”

Unprotected phones
South Wales Police now claim that inspecting evidence stored on a phone, such as texts and photos, is becoming a common practice, especially because the majority of suspects own handsets.

“While the scale and quality of the photograph proved a challenge, the small bits were enough to prove he was the dealer,” he said. “It has now opened the floodgates and when there is part of a hand on a photograph, officers are sending them in.”

And while examining phone data could indeed help investigators, this is only possible when devices themselves are not encrypted. Similar cases are currently at the core of a years-long dispute in the United States where the FBI cannot extract information from mobile phones because they’re protected by passcodes.

The FBI has called for companies like Apple to help unlock these devices, but until now, all these requests have been quickly rejected by device makers.


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