Cloud Metadata Contributing to Criminal Convictions

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Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do when the cloud comes for you? A couple of news stories have broken across the USA that talk about how the cloud is being used to retrieve stolen property and build a case against fugitives.
Houston’s ABC affiliate KSAT recently ran a story detailing a crime committed against Randy Schaefer. One evening, Mr. Schaefer left his iPad and $5,000 in cash in his car while having it parked in front of his suburban residence. When he returned to his car, the cash and iPad were gone. Shaefer swiftly called the police.
Shortly thereafter, Shaefer noticed that 15 new pictures had been uploaded to his iCloud account. But how could that be? In fact, after monitoring the account, Shaefer even noticed a video of two young men holding a wad of $100 dollar bills. Shaefer immediately contacted law enforcement once again to report the new developments.
Houston’s police department immediately put its High Tech Criminal Investigations unit on the case and using metadata from the cloud uploaded pictures, the police were able to pin point the coordinates of the perpetrators.
What the criminals may not have realized is that when they were using the iPad to gloat about the spoils of their crime, the iPad was queuing up this data to be uploaded to Shaefer’s iCloud account as soon as the criminals reconnected the tablet to Wi-Fi.
Lt. Gary Spurger of the High Tech Criminal Investigations unit in Houston mentions, “Anytime your phone connects to the cloud, it leaves information where you are. It leaves Internet Provider address information. All kinds of things.”
KSAT’s report goes on to call cloud a game changer for law enforcement. Reports like this should become more common as more end users will begin turning over cloud metadata as way to track down criminals. Cloud could also become another method for defense attorney to construct an alibi for a client looking to vindicate themselves if they feel as if they are being wrongly accused of a crime.