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FBI Fails to Crack Pimp’s Pattern Unlock, Requests That Google Help

by Brandon Russell | March 14, 2012March 14, 2012 6:30 pm PDT

Android Pattern Unlock FBIWhen you’re a company like Google, it’s never good when the FBI comes knocking. But never would the search giant have expected such an outlandish inquiry made by the government agency. Apparently, forensics experts from within the FBI have failed to gain access to a Samsung Exhibit II, all because of Android’s pattern unlock. Why is the device so important? Because it belongs to a San Diego-based pimp named Dante Dears, founder of a group called “Pimpin’ Hoes Daily” (PHD).

Soon after being released from prison in 2011, Dears quickly went back to his pimping ways, only this time he ran PHD solely through his Exhibit II. But because he wasn’t out on the streets, the FBI was unable to gather enough evidence to prosecute Dears again. So the FBI sent in an undercover source who met with Dears for nearly three hours. During that time, Dears was supposedly seen “taking several telephone calls where he discussed the night’s prostitution activities. He also sent multiple text messages throughout the evening. Shortly after sending a message, a woman would arrive at the apartment and give Dears money.”

When Dears was confronted by the FBI, the pimp eventually handed over his Exhibit II, but not before setting the Android’s pattern unlock feature. Because agents were unable to peruse the phone’s information, the device was eventually sent to the FBI Regional Computer Forensics Lab in Southern California where technicians were eventually locked out of the phone completely.

That’s why Google is now involved. The FBI has filed a warrant against the Mountain View company asking it to hand over a number of Dears’ personal information, including:

  • The subscriber’s name, address, Social Security number, account login and password
  • All e-mail and personal contact list information on file for cellular telephone
  • The times and duration of every webpage visited
  • All text messages sent and received from the phone, including photo and video messages
  • Any e-mail addresses or instant messenger accounts used on the phone
  • Verbal and/or written instructions for overriding the ‘pattern lock’ installed on the phone
  • All search terms, Internet history, and GPS data that Google has stored for the phone

And Google responded with this statement to ArsTechnica, “Like all law-abiding companies, we comply with valid legal process. Whenever we receive a request we make sure it meets both the letter and spirit of the law before complying. If we believe a request is overly broad, we will seek to narrow it.”

I guess the moral of the story is, it’s never a bad idea to add an extra layer of security to your mobile device.

[via Ars Technica]


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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