As you know, our mobile phones track a lot of the things that we do, such as our location, the things we browse on the internet, and even certain health-related metrics, such as the calories we’ve burnt, how many steps we’ve taken, and so on. In fact those are the kind of data that is being used as evidence in a rape and murder investigation over in Germany.

According to the report from Motherboard, a man allegedly raped a murdered a woman back in 2017, and so far investigators have been somewhat stumped due to a missing chunk of geodata and surveillance video analysis of his whereabouts at the time the crime was committed. However what the authorities have since done is hire a Munich company who apparently was successful in unlocking his iPhone (which he previously refused to give police access to).

The report reads, “The app recorded a portion of his activity as ‘climbing stairs,’ which authorities were able to correlate with the time he would have dragged his victim down the river embankment, and then climbed back up. Freiburg police sent an investigator to the scene to replicate his movements, and sure enough, his Health app activity correlated with what was recorded on the defendant’s phone.”

It is an interesting use of the data, and also an interesting legal development. Motherboard spoke to Sean O’Brien, a researcher at Yale Privacy Lab, where he agreed that in the future, we can only expect more of these cases where our smartphones can testify against us in court. “Digital evidence is already more common in law enforcement, not only metrics from apps but also facial recognition, recordings from smart speakers, and, of course, smart devices with cameras.”

Filed in Apple >Cellphones >General. Read more about Health, iPhone, Legal and Privacy.

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