Android Pattern Unlocking Fails; FBI Seeks Google Cooperation

April 21, 2012, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

To discover the details of a pimp’s activities, the FBI needs to unlock his Android phone first! San Diego’s Dante Dears, who was sentenced to state prison for founding and running a group called Pimpin’ Hoes Daily (PHD) in 2005, got released in 2011 and, since then, was allegedly continuing “telephone pimping” with the help of a Samsung Android phone.

The agents want Google to hand over Dears’ e-mail searches, web searches, GPS tracking data, websites visited, and text messages. It has been reported that the agents were granted the permission to do so.

However, the incident sheds light on the fact that smartphones could generate data, even on common, jejune users.


The FBI obtained the warrant to search the phone in February 2012. The smartphone examined by FBI Regional Computer Forensics Lab in Southern California failed to gain access to the contents of the locked phone after several attempts. The “pattern lock” of Android, known for its high security provision, was the major hindrance here.

When one enters wrong patterns to unlock the phone enough number of times, the only way out to unlock it would be by using the phone owner’s Google account credentials. That is what happened here too. The accused was not at all cooperative and the failed attempts to unlock the device forced FBI to obtain a new warrant to be served on Google.

Google like all law-abiding companies they too comply with a valid legal process. So whenever they receive a request, they make sure it meets the letter and spirit of the law before complying, Google has said in response to FBI’s warrant and request.

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