Denmark frees 32 inmates over flaws in phone geolocation evidence

luggage

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The use of mobile data, and in particular geolocation data, has become a major factor in convictions over the last number of years in Ireland. Some recent high profile cases, in particular the conviction of Graham O'Dwyer for the murder of Elaine O'Hara, have relied on mobile metadata.

"The discovery of these phones and the metadata they provided was to prove crucial in the investigation. "


The Danish Government have released 32 prisoners as part of an overall review of 10,700 cases after issues around the reliability of mobile data emerged.


Denmark's director of prosecutions is quoted as saying,
"“This is a very, very serious issue,” he told Denmark’s state broadcaster DR. “We simply cannot live with the idea that information that isn’t accurate could send people to prison.”

What implications, if any, will this decision lead to in Ireland? Will those convicted based on mobile data now have an opportunity to review their cases because of the review being undertaken by the Danish prosecution service?
 


McTell

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No
When you buy a phone you don't think you're buying a tracking device.

Handy to keep tabs on the kids.

If you are merely SUSPECTED of a crime these, days, all smart-phones and laptops can be impounded, and you may never get them back.

It would be so easy for your partner to borrow a phone, or take it by mistake, or this could be an alibi - tracking info should be last on the list.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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No
I've the 'wiffy' switched off on my 'phone as I get enough wiffy at home and at work.

I think the convergence of information on everyone, our digital emissions and shapes in the data, is a very real risk.

The damage some malevolent could do if they had access to your digital shape would be extraordinary. Credit history, bank accounts emptied, burgled, family connections the same.
 

luggage

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I am looking at this from purely the implications for criminal investigations. There is a completely separate and legitimate debate to be undertaken regarding data and how it is managed, stored and accessed.

The Danish police found numerous anomalies between the base data from the phone masts and the processed data used for evidence. The phone operators are basically saying the data was never designed to be interrupted in this way.

How are the Gardai processing this data? Are they using similar software as the Danes? If they are then this could have huge implications. Up to this point this data has been perceived as inviolable. What now?
 

Baron von Biffo

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I am looking at this from purely the implications for criminal investigations. There is a completely separate and legitimate debate to be undertaken regarding data and how it is managed, stored and accessed.

The Danish police found numerous anomalies between the base data from the phone masts and the processed data used for evidence. The phone operators are basically saying the data was never designed to be interrupted in this way.

How are the Gardai processing this data? Are they using similar software as the Danes? If they are then this could have huge implications. Up to this point this data has been perceived as inviolable. What now?
The article is saying that it's the phone company software that's at issue, not that of the police force. The phone company points out that it collects data for commercial rather than evidential purposes.
 

luggage

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The article is saying that it's the phone company software that's at issue, not that of the police force. The phone company points out that it collects data for commercial rather than evidential purposes.
Yet the data was being used to convict people, and seen as inviolable. How is it being handled here?
 

Baron von Biffo

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Yet the data was being used to convict people, and seen as inviolable. How is it being handled here?
Nothing should be accepted as infallible by a court. Even DNA evidence is open to inaccuracies relating error, negligence and poor collection/handling.

It goes to show why due process and the rights of accused persons are of the utmost importance.
 

luggage

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Nothing should be accepted as infallible by a court. Even DNA evidence is open to inaccuracies relating error, negligence and poor collection/handling.

It goes to show why due process and the rights of accused persons are of the utmost importance.
I agree. And the fact both the prosecution service and government are both in sync regarding the review is commendable.

What I am interested in is how this will be viewed in our judicial system, and it's impact. I was surprised that over 10,000 cases were affected by this. How long was this going on before it was discovered there was an issue?

While not trying to impugn our police force or prosecution service, but if the Dane's got this wrong, have we?
 

Baron von Biffo

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I agree. And the fact both the prosecution service and government are both in sync regarding the review is commendable.

What I am interested in is how this will be viewed in our judicial system, and it's impact. I was surprised that over 10,000 cases were affected by this. How long was this going on before it was discovered there was an issue?

While not trying to impugn our police force or prosecution service, but if the Dane's got this wrong, have we?
It would seem reasonable to assume that our don't differ significantly from those in Denmark. They may even be identical as the pool of providers of that sort of technology wouldn't be large.

I'd be more concerned with how our courts would deal with such cases. The DPP v JC judgement in which the Supreme Court ruled that evidence obtained unconstitutionally may still be used against an accused person hints that citizens rights take a back seat to expediency.
 

recedite

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The system has also linked phones to the wrong masts, connected them to several towers at once, sometimes hundreds of kilometres apart, recorded the origins of text messages incorrectly and got the location of specific towers wrong.
The issue seems to be due to various masts mirroring info with each other, which is good for the phone signal, but bad for police work.
Fair play to the Danes for coming clean about it.

I'd say plenty of other jurisdictions have come to the same conclusions, but have chosen to cover up instead. Too much of a can of worms.
 

truthisfree

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Looking at my geolocation on an old phone to see if it is ok for maps, it hops around between next door on either side about 60-70 metres away and sometimes way further about 150M or more. At one point it placed me about 20Km away!

Looking at my present phone and it has me walking around the house :D

Edit: Now I'm next door!
 

toughbutfair

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I’ve never understood why murderers just don’t buy a dangerous dog, put their phone in a bag and tie to the collar, and let it roam around the neighborhood for a few hours while they go off and murder the person.
 

kimari

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dont like it
Wasnt his phone s given location one of the key pieces of evidence that helped convict joe o reilly where does that leave him now
 

luggage

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Interesting. The State is appealing the High Court's decision last year, which found part of the legislation allowing mobile phone metadata to be retained and accessed in the investigation of serious crimes breached EU law and the European Convention on Human Rights. They are specifically citing the Graham Dwyer case.

Is their argument essentially, yeah it was illegal, but do you want the likes of him freed?
 


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