Primarily, mobile device forensic tools have been used by police departments and private businesses to assist in electronic evidence review and help solve crimes. However, there is a new use for those tools that is growing in popularity. Gizmodo reviewed public documents to determine that certain school districts have been purchasing these tools for years.
Gizmodo’s search revealed that in 2020 North East Independent School District of San Antonio, purchased $6,695 worth of products from the popular mobile forensics software company, Cellebrite. Also, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD near Houston purchased around $3,000 worth of products from another popular mobile forensics company, Oxygen Forensics.
Altogether, Gizmodo reviewed similar documents from eight different school districts and determined that school administrators paid as much as approximately $11,000 for various tools able to make copies of students’ text messages, photos and application data.
The need for mobile forensic technologies in school districts vary, but technology was notably used back in 2016 when a high school student was suspected of having a romantic relationship with a school teacher. The student consented to having his phone searched by the school district and one of the resource officers attempted to recover deleted text messages by using a mobile forensic tool. After a review, it was determined the student and teacher were in frequent communication and would message each other “I love you.” The teacher was eventually arrested for sexual assault of a child.
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Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology