Cellebrite

Cellebrite is an  Israeli digital intelligence company that provides tools for collection, analysis, and management of digital data. It was founded in 1999 and has its headquarters in Petah Tikva, Israel.

Cellebrite’s mobile forensics division was established in 2007 and produces digital forensics and intelligence tools for use by law enforcement, intelligence agencies, military branches, corporate security and investigations, law firms, and private digital forensic examiners.[1] According to Owler, Cellebrite has an Annual Revenue of $220 million.[2] 

It has fourteen offices around the globe, including business centers in the US,  Brazil, Canada, Germany, UK, France, India, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Singapore. Cellebrite is a fully owned subsidiary of Sun Corporation (JASDAQ: 6736), based in Nagoya, Japan. According to Cellebrite’s website more than 150 countries used Cellebrite’s services but the firm never publicly confirmed which governments are among its customers.[3] According to Cellebrite its clients include police departments in all 50 US states, national law enforcement agencies in 25 of the 27 European Union nations, and 8 out of the 10 largest US banks. [4] A 2014 CNN segment on the company counted 140 different police clients worldwide.[5]

Cellebrite provides a series of digital forensic devices based on the flagship tool – UFED (Universal Forensic Extraction Device)[6] – which unlocks mobile phones and computers passwords, bypasses encryption, and extracts information including GPS, deleted messages, calls, and data collected by apps that the user is unaware of. One UFED device can be used on up to 3,000 phones. The UFED is used in conjunction with another Cellebrite product, Physical Analyzer[7] , which allows the operant to analyze the digital evidence and create customized reports.

In 2016, the company attracted worldwide attention after it helped the FBI in the United States hack into the iPhone of the terrorist who shot up the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people. The hacking operation, for which the FBI reportedly paid $900,000, spared the law enforcement agency the need to continue pursuing highly publicized legal proceedings that sought to force the iPhone’s manufacturer, Apple, to give the FBI access to the data on the device.[8] It was disclosed that Cellebrite has not been registered as a security-related exporter, as the law requires, due to what they claim is the non-defense nature of their phone-hacking hardware. As a result, the Israeli firm and its gear is not subject to the supervision of the Defense Ministry’s Defense Export Control Agency – due to what has been described by critics as a failing on the company’s part, and possibly of the Defense Ministry as well.[9] 

Cellebrite admits that its products pose risks to human rights, and has openly stated they “may be used by customers in a way that is, or that is perceived to be, incompatible with human rights.” [10]

Photo: from a Cellebrite brochure, shows how a police officer can use a machine to extract data from a phone. 

Acquisitions / Subsidiaries / Fundings:

in 2007, Cellebrite was acquired by FutureDial Incorporated and one of its major shareholders, Sun Corporation in Japan.[11] Today Sun Corporation is Cellebrite’s largest shareholder. In 2019 Israeli Growth Partners (IGP) invested $110 million in Cellebrite.[12] It has maintained its Israeli operation, based in its offices in the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikva, where it employs a staff of several hundred.[13]

In 2019 Cellebrite signed a partnership with the South-Korean company Golden Access Co. Ltd. In their shared website it says that Golden Access specializes in manufacturing, installing and managing Israeli telecommunication equipment for public institutions. [14]

In 2020, Cellebrite acquired BlackBag Technologies, a forensics company with a focus on computer forensics. The acquisition allowed Cellebrite to expand its digital intelligence solution offerings to include data collection tools from computers. [15]

In 2021, Cellebrite announced that they entered into a definitive business combination agreement and plan of merger with TWC Tech Holdings II Corporation. Once completed, Cellebrite will become a publicly listed company on the Nasdaq under the new ticker symbol, “CLBT”; the pro forma implied equity value of Cellebrite post-merger is expected to be approximately $2.4 billion.[16]

Countries that used Cellebrite's Technology:

Bahrain – According to an investigation by The Intercept, in 2013, the Bahraini government used Cellebrite’s UFED to prosecute political activists.[17] One of them is activist Mohammed al-Singace, who is currently serving a 10-year sentence in a Bahrain prison. After torturing al-Singace, the government reportedly used Cellebrite’s equipment to extract the contents of his phone — the activist’s private WhatsApp messages and photos. These were then used as evidence against him. Cellebrite’s technology was also allegedly used to investigate and prosecute another Bahraini human rights defender, Naji Fateel, who was similarly tortured and is serving a 15-year prison sentence.[18] [19]

Bangladesh – Documents show that Bangladesh Rapid Action Battalion also called ‘Death Squad’ purchased Cellebrite’s phone-hacking tech and received training. The paramilitary unit is accused of extrajudicial killings and torture of hundreds of civilians.[20]

Belarus – In an appeal against Israel’s Defense Export Control Agency, Defense Ministry, and Cellebrite, Eitay Mack, a lawyer and human rights activist, together with 80 human rights activists revealed documents that link Cellebrite’s technology with the persecution of political actors in Belarus.[21] Lukashenko administration has purchased and used Cellebrite‘s hacking technology since 2016.[22]

Botswana – CPJ’s investigation revealed that Botswana police used UFED in April 2020 to obtain incriminating information and reveal the contacts of Oratile Dikologang, a journalist with Botswana People’s Daily News. The police allegedly stripped Dikologang naked and pulled a black plastic pulled over his head during the interrogation.[23]

China – Hong Kong police used Cellebrite’s technology to attack pro-democracy protester in Hong Kong in 2020. Cellebrite’s hardware cracked the phones of nearly 4,000 detainees.[24] Pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong announced that Cellebrite’s technology was used to search his device.[25] The activist, along with Israeli lawyer Eitay Mack and others, called on Israeli authorities to block Cellebrite from exporting to Hong Kong. Cellebrite stopped selling its products to China and Hong Kong in October 2020.[26]

European Union – between 2014-2016 Cellebrite participated in a €2m R&D program by the European Union called EVIDENCE (European Informatics Data Exchange Framework for Courts and Evidence).[27] According to Politico, Cellebrite is one of several Israeli firms that is working on Europe’s efforts to track everything from COVID-19 to migrants arriving from Africa and the Middle East.[28]

Germany – German state police uses Cellebrite’s technology for crime investigation and customs service investigations.[29] Bavarian crime police unit purchased UFED from Cellebrite in 2018.[30] In 2017 Cellebrite was operated in a test-phase by the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.[83]

Georgia – In 2018 an application for Supply and Delivery of Cellebrite UFED Software-based Mobile Forensic Solution for the national project “Sustaining Border Management and Migration Governance in Georgia” was filed in the International Organization for Migration.[31]

Ghana – CPJ reported that, at least in 2017 and 2019, the U.S. and Interpol gave Cellebrite tools to the Ghanaian authorities, which are known for arresting journalists and searching their phones for sources.[32]

India – Medianama reported that Cellebrite’s UFED Ultimate and Physical Analyzer is used to extract information from smartphones by the Delhi Police in India. The Delhi Police are currently under scrutiny for widespread, intrusive surveillance projects targeting peaceful protestors and opposition lawmakers.[33] [34] [35] In 2020 Cellebrite pitched Indian Police its their technology to trace coronavirus.[81]

Indonesia – Haaretz reported that Indonesia employed the UFED technology to stifle political dissent and to enforce controversial “modesty” laws.[36]

Myanmar – reportedly used Cellebrite’s Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) to retrieve documents from journalists’ phones.[37] Between 2017-2018, the Myanmar government used UFED to prosecute two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. The journalists were accused of violating state secrecy laws for their Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on atrocities against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority. While Cellebrite claims that it stopped selling its products in Myanmar in late 2018, Freedom House and human rights lawyer Khin Maung Zaw claim that the government is still deploying the technology.[38]

Nigeria – Nigerian security forces use UFED by Cellebrite.[39]

PortugalCellebrite’s UFED is used by Guarda Nacional Republicana.[40] OnRetrieval is Cellebrite’s official representative/distributor in Portugal for the marketing of its tools.[41]

Russia – documents link Cellebrite’s technology with the persecution of minority groups in Russia. Cellebrite’s technology was used to target the LGBTQ community, opposition forces and minorities in Russia by its Investigative Committee.  The Investigative Committee, which has been persecuting Alexey Navalny, Pussy Riot, and LGBTQ+ activist Yulia Tsvetkova, among others, bragged about using Cellebrite’s technology more than 26,000 time. Under pressure from human rights activists, including Eitay Mack, the company announced in March 2021 that it will halt sales to Russia.[42] [43]

Saudi Arabia – Cellebrite provided Phone-hacking Services to Saudi Arabia in 2019.[44]

The Seychelles – In 2017 UNODC provided the Seychelles Commissioner of Police with Cellebrite Universal Forensic Extraction Devices (UFED) that will be used by the Seychelles Police Force.[45]

South Korea – used by public institutions through Cellebrite Korea (Israeli-Korean partnership) since 2019.[46]

Spain – In Spain, Cellebrite has been contracted by the Spanish Army, Policia Nacional and Guardia Civil.[47] In 2016 Cellebrite announced that UFED was used by Europol and the Spanish Police to dismantle a main European union hub for distribution of counterfeit goods.[48] [49] In 2017 In the case of Spain, Cellebrite has been used by the Guardia Civil to hack the phone of Josep Maria Jové, a Catalan politician arrested for allegedly organizing the 1st October referendum and who refused to give his password to the officers.[50] In 2017 Media reports claimed that an iPhone 6 that was dredged out of the water in Spain has been unlocked by Cellebrite for Spanish Law enforcement.[51] OnRetrieval is Cellebrite’s official representative/distributor in Spain for the marketing of its tools.[52] In 2021 it was reported that the Spanish government has bought 15 Cellebrite UFED Touch2 analyzers for the General Police Office for Immigration and Borders (CGEF).[89]

Tanzania – In 2017 Cellebrite’s Universal Forensic Extraction Devices (UFED) were provided to assist maritime law enforcement units. The equipment was funded through the EU MASE programme.[53]

Turkey – in use by Turkey’s national police force since 2011.[54]

UK – In the UK Cellebrite has been contracted by several police forces: Police Scotland, Leicestershire Police, Sussex Police, Gloucestershire Constabulary, Cumbria Police and South Wales Police.[55]  In 2018, the UK Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement authority made a payment of £45,000 to Cellebrite.[56] Reports in the U.K. have revealed that Cellebrite’s technology is also used by London’s Metropolitan Police (also known as Scotland Yard).[57]

United Arab Emirates – Reportedly operated by UAE’s Ministry of Interior since 2011.[58] Cellebrite signed a deal in Abu Dhabi in 2020, Globes reported. The deal is estimated to be worth $3 million, and was apparently signed with a government agency in Abu Dhabi.[59] Globes reported that the deal was brokered by former Israeli Mossad executive David Meidan.  In July 2021 Cellebrite published a job offer for a Director of Strategic Accounts for the UAE.[60]

USA – US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has signed a contract up to $30m-$35m with Cellebrite in 2020 for “universal forensic extraction devices” (UFED), as well as other services, including accessories, licenses, training and support services – more than ten times than the value of the $2.2 million previous contract signed between the two sides in 2017.[61]

Venezuela – Cellebrite sold its phone-hacking technology to Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela, despite American sanctions which ban exports to the country.[62] [63]

Vietnam – an investigation revealed in 2021 that Cellebrite sold its digital forensics tools to a Vietnamese Ministry. [64]

Use on Migrants and Asylum Seekers

USA

Cellebrite has acted as a strategic partner to Federal law enforcement agencies, providing technology that allows agents to hack, search, and analyze information stored on electronic devices. From 2005 to 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been the highest awarding sub agency, granting Cellebrite 206 contracts totaling $22 million – 27.43% of Cellebrite’s U.S. government contracts – for universal forensic extraction devices (UFEDs), accessories licenses, training and support services. [65]

Cellebrite has sold hacking software and training to ICE, which has allowed it access to an immense amount of personal data without a warrant – including geolocation history, internet browsing history, bank records, text messages, and photos – which they use to terrorize, detain and immigrant communities in record numbers.[66]

Since 2005, Customs and Border Protection has held over 117 contracts with Cellebrite worth around $5 million.[67] [68]As of July 2021, Cellebrite has five active contracts with CBP for UFED devices, annual licenses, and personnel training. CBP also uses Cellebrite software to track and survey immigrants, performing warrantless searches at the border and between points of entry as part of the Tech Wall. These illegal searches allow agents to gather intimate details about individuals’ lives in order to interrogate, detain, and ultimately deport individuals seeking asylum.[69]

Europe 

The potential use of its product to investigate the digital lives of people seeking asylum was outlined by Cellebrite’s VP of International Marketing in a pitch in 2019 in Morocco to government officials gathered from around the world.  According to Cellebrite’s salesperson, some “77% of refugees [sic] arrive without document”, while 43% have a smartphone during their journey – insisting that in lieu of documents, a person’s phone could be used to find out who they are, what they have been doing, where they have been, when, and ultimately why they are seeking asylum.[70] [71]

European countries are increasingly using smartphone surveillance to investigate asylum seekers. As reported by Wired, in 2017 Germany and Denmark expanded laws enabling immigration officials to conduct such examination of people’s phones, while the UK and Norway have been carrying out the practice for years.[72] In Germany, more than 8000 phones were searched in half a year after passing the powers.[73] In 2018, Austria passed a similar law.[74] In May 2018, the UK Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement authority made a payment of £45,000 to Cellebrite.[75] In 2017 Cellebrite’s technology was operated in a test-phase by the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.[83]

When asked by the audience in Morocco about legal frameworks governing its use, the Cellebrite salesperson remarked that new laws could either be introduced or existing ones amended to request people hand over their devices or be banned from entering, but that in any case there is usually “consent” from those seeking asylum.[76]

Cellebrite are openly advertising about the need of the European Union for Cellebrite’s technology to monitor and track asylum seekers and immigrants.[77]

Cellebrite is listed as an exhibitor in the World Border Security Congress in Athens, Greece in October 2021. They are also one of the sponsers of the congress.[82]

Use by Israeli Forces and Authorities:

Israeli Police and the Department of Police Investigations are using Cellebrite’s technologies since 2016.[78][79] In July 2021 the Government Procurement Administration’s website published the intention of the Ministry of Internal Security/Israel Police to contract with Cellebrite. The commitment amounts to NIS 19 million for the period from August 2021 to March 2024. [80]

The Israeli National Insurance Institute uses UFED for investigations. In 2019 the institute applied for an extension of the contract till 2022.[84]

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority made a contract with Cellebrite for UFED technology service between 2019-2021.[85]

The Ministry of Justice made a 132,886 NIS worth contract with Cellebrite in 2016 [86] and renewed it in 2019 for 94,000 NIS.[87]

The Israeli Customs authority made a 442,000 NIS deal with Cellebrite in 2015.[88]

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85. ^ https://www.parks.org.il/exemption-processes/%D7%A1%D7%9C%D7%91%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%99%D7%98-%D7%91%D7%A7%D7%A9%D7%94-%D7%9C%D7%94%D7%AA%D7%A7%D7%A9%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%AA-%D7%A2%D7%9D-%D7%A1%D7%A4%D7%A7-%D7%99%D7%97%D7%99%D7%93-%D7%A2%D7%91%D7%95%D7%A8/

86. ^ https://www.kyma.co.il/%D7%94%D7%AA%D7%A7%D7%A9%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%99%D7%95%D7%AA-%D7%A8%D7%91%D7%A2%D7%95%D7%9F-1-2016-%D7%9E%D7%A9%D7%A8%D7%93-%D7%94%D7%9E%D7%A9%D7%A4%D7%98%D7%99%D7%9D/

87. ^ https://foi.gov.il/sites/default/files/%D7%93%D7%95%D7%97%20%D7%94%D7%AA%D7%A7%D7%A9%D7%A8%D7%95%D7%99%D7%95%D7%AA%20%D7%A8%D7%91%D7%A2%D7%95%D7%9F%202%202019%20-%20%D7%9C%D7%A4%D7%A8%D7%A1%D7%95%D7%9D.xlsx

88. ^ https://next.obudget.org/i/tenders/exemptions/567192/none

89. ^ https://www.xataka.com/seguridad/gobierno-compra-15-unidades-cellebrite-ufed-touch-2-que-como-funcionan

Cellebrite

Cellebrite is an  Israeli digital intelligence company that provides tools for collection, analysis, and management of digital data. It was founded in 1999 and has its headquarters in Petah Tikva, Israel.

Cellebrite’s mobile forensics division was established in 2007 and produces digital forensics and intelligence tools for use by law enforcement, intelligence agencies, military branches, corporate security and investigations, law firms, and private digital forensic examiners.[1] According to Owler, Cellebrite has an Annual Revenue of $220 million.[2] 

It has fourteen offices around the globe, including business centers in the US,  Brazil, Canada, Germany, UK, France, India, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Singapore. Cellebrite is a fully owned subsidiary of Sun Corporation (JASDAQ: 6736), based in Nagoya, Japan. According to Cellebrite’s website more than 150 countries used Cellebrite’s services but the firm never publicly confirmed which governments are among its customers.[3] According to Cellebrite its clients include police departments in all 50 US states, national law enforcement agencies in 25 of the 27 European Union nations, and 8 out of the 10 largest US banks. [4] A 2014 CNN segment on the company counted 140 different police clients worldwide.[5]

Cellebrite provides a series of digital forensic devices based on the flagship tool – UFED (Universal Forensic Extraction Device)[6] – which unlocks mobile phones and computers passwords, bypasses encryption, and extracts information including GPS, deleted messages, calls, and data collected by apps that the user is unaware of. One UFED device can be used on up to 3,000 phones. The UFED is used in conjunction with another Cellebrite product, Physical Analyzer[7] , which allows the operant to analyze the digital evidence and create customized reports.

In 2016, the company attracted worldwide attention after it helped the FBI in the United States hack into the iPhone of the terrorist who shot up the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 people. The hacking operation, for which the FBI reportedly paid $900,000, spared the law enforcement agency the need to continue pursuing highly publicized legal proceedings that sought to force the iPhone’s manufacturer, Apple, to give the FBI access to the data on the device.[8] It was disclosed that Cellebrite has not been registered as a security-related exporter, as the law requires, due to what they claim is the non-defense nature of their phone-hacking hardware. As a result, the Israeli firm and its gear is not subject to the supervision of the Defense Ministry’s Defense Export Control Agency – due to what has been described by critics as a failing on the company’s part, and possibly of the Defense Ministry as well.[9]

Cellebrite admits that its products pose risks to human rights, and has openly stated they “may be used by customers in a way that is, or that is perceived to be, incompatible with human rights.” [10]

in 2007, Cellebrite was acquired by FutureDial Incorporated and one of its major shareholders, Sun Corporation in Japan.[11] Today Sun Corporation is Cellebrite’s largest shareholder. In 2019 Israeli Growth Partners (IGP) invested $110 million in Cellebrite.[12] It has maintained its Israeli operation, based in its offices in the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikva, where it employs a staff of several hundred.[13]

In 2019 Cellebrite signed a partnership with the South-Korean company Golden Access Co. Ltd. In their shared website it says that Golden Access specializes in manufacturing, installing and managing Israeli telecommunication equipment for public institutions. [14]

In 2020, Cellebrite acquired BlackBag Technologies, a forensics company with a focus on computer forensics. The acquisition allowed Cellebrite to expand its digital intelligence solution offerings to include data collection tools from computers. [15]

In 2021, Cellebrite announced that they entered into a definitive business combination agreement and plan of merger with TWC Tech Holdings II Corporation. Once completed, Cellebrite will become a publicly listed company on the Nasdaq under the new ticker symbol, “CLBT”; the pro forma implied equity value of Cellebrite post-merger is expected to be approximately $2.4 billion.[16]

Bahrain – According to an investigation by The Intercept, in 2013, the Bahraini government used Cellebrite’s UFED to prosecute political activists.[17] One of them is activist Mohammed al-Singace, who is currently serving a 10-year sentence in a Bahrain prison. After torturing al-Singace, the government reportedly used Cellebrite’s equipment to extract the contents of his phone — the activist’s private WhatsApp messages and photos. These were then used as evidence against him. Cellebrite’s technology was also allegedly used to investigate and prosecute another Bahraini human rights defender, Naji Fateel, who was similarly tortured and is serving a 15-year prison sentence.[18] [19] Bangladesh – Documents show that Bangladesh Rapid Action Battalion also called ‘Death Squad’ purchased Cellebrite’s phone-hacking tech and received training. The paramilitary unit is accused of extrajudicial killings and torture of hundreds of civilians.[20] Belarus – In an appeal against Israel’s Defense Export Control Agency, Defense Ministry, and Cellebrite, Eitay Mack, a lawyer and human rights activist, together with 80 human rights activists revealed documents that link Cellebrite’s technology with the persecution of political actors in Belarus.[21] Lukashenko administration has purchased and used Cellebrite‘s hacking technology since 2016.[22] Botswana – CPJ’s investigation revealed that Botswana police used UFED in April 2020 to obtain incriminating information and reveal the contacts of Oratile Dikologang, a journalist with Botswana People’s Daily News. The police allegedly stripped Dikologang naked and pulled a black plastic pulled over his head during the interrogation.[23] China – Hong Kong police used Cellebrite’s technology to attack pro-democracy protester in Hong Kong in 2020. Cellebrite’s hardware cracked the phones of nearly 4,000 detainees.[24] Pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong announced that Cellebrite’s technology was used to search his device.[25] The activist, along with Israeli lawyer Eitay Mack and others, called on Israeli authorities to block Cellebrite from exporting to Hong Kong. Cellebrite stopped selling its products to China and Hong Kong in October 2020.[26] European Union – between 2014-2016 Cellebrite participated in a €2m R&D program by the European Union called EVIDENCE (European Informatics Data Exchange Framework for Courts and Evidence).[27] According to Politico, Cellebrite is one of several Israeli firms that is working on Europe’s efforts to track everything from COVID-19 to migrants arriving from Africa and the Middle East.[28] Germany – German state police uses Cellebrite’s technology for crime investigation and customs service investigations.[29] Bavarian crime police unit purchased UFED from Cellebrite in 2018.[30] In 2017 Cellebrite was operated in a test-phase by the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.[83] Georgia – In 2018 an application for Supply and Delivery of Cellebrite UFED Software-based Mobile Forensic Solution for the national project “Sustaining Border Management and Migration Governance in Georgia” was filed in the International Organization for Migration.[31] Ghana – CPJ reported that, at least in 2017 and 2019, the U.S. and Interpol gave Cellebrite tools to the Ghanaian authorities, which are known for arresting journalists and searching their phones for sources.[32] India – Medianama reported that Cellebrite’s UFED Ultimate and Physical Analyzer is used to extract information from smartphones by the Delhi Police in India. The Delhi Police are currently under scrutiny for widespread, intrusive surveillance projects targeting peaceful protestors and opposition lawmakers.[33] [34] [35] In 2020 Cellebrite pitched Indian Police its their technology to trace coronavirus.[81] Indonesia – Haaretz reported that Indonesia employed the UFED technology to stifle political dissent and to enforce controversial “modesty” laws.[36] Myanmar – reportedly used Cellebrite’s Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) to retrieve documents from journalists’ phones.[37] Between 2017-2018, the Myanmar government used UFED to prosecute two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. The journalists were accused of violating state secrecy laws for their Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on atrocities against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority. While Cellebrite claims that it stopped selling its products in Myanmar in late 2018, Freedom House and human rights lawyer Khin Maung Zaw claim that the government is still deploying the technology.[38] Nigeria – Nigerian security forces use UFED by Cellebrite.[39] PortugalCellebrite’s UFED is used by Guarda Nacional Republicana.[40] OnRetrieval is Cellebrite’s official representative/distributor in Portugal for the marketing of its tools.[41] Russia – documents link Cellebrite’s technology with the persecution of minority groups in Russia. Cellebrite’s technology was used to target the LGBTQ community, opposition forces and minorities in Russia by its Investigative Committee.  The Investigative Committee, which has been persecuting Alexey Navalny, Pussy Riot, and LGBTQ+ activist Yulia Tsvetkova, among others, bragged about using Cellebrite’s technology more than 26,000 time. Under pressure from human rights activists, including Eitay Mack, the company announced in March 2021 that it will halt sales to Russia.[42] [43] Saudi Arabia – Cellebrite provided Phone-hacking Services to Saudi Arabia in 2019.[44] The Seychelles – In 2017 UNODC provided the Seychelles Commissioner of Police with Cellebrite Universal Forensic Extraction Devices (UFED) that will be used by the Seychelles Police Force.[45] South Korea – used by public institutions through Cellebrite Korea (Israeli-Korean partnership) since 2019.[46] Spain – In Spain, Cellebrite has been contracted by the Spanish Army, Policia Nacional and Guardia Civil.[47] In 2016 Cellebrite announced that UFED was used by Europol and the Spanish Police to dismantle a main European union hub for distribution of counterfeit goods.[48] [49] In 2017 In the case of Spain, Cellebrite has been used by the Guardia Civil to hack the phone of Josep Maria Jové, a Catalan politician arrested for allegedly organizing the 1st October referendum and who refused to give his password to the officers.[50] In 2017 Media reports claimed that an iPhone 6 that was dredged out of the water in Spain has been unlocked by Cellebrite for Spanish Law enforcement.[51] OnRetrieval is Cellebrite’s official representative/distributor in Spain for the marketing of its tools.[52] In 2021 it was reported that the Spanish government has bought 15 Cellebrite UFED Touch2 analyzers for the General Police Office for Immigration and Borders (CGEF).[89] Tanzania – In 2017 Cellebrite’s Universal Forensic Extraction Devices (UFED) were provided to assist maritime law enforcement units. The equipment was funded through the EU MASE programme.[53] Turkey – in use by Turkey’s national police force since 2011.[54] UK – In the UK Cellebrite has been contracted by several police forces: Police Scotland, Leicestershire Police, Sussex Police, Gloucestershire Constabulary, Cumbria Police and South Wales Police.[55]  In 2018, the UK Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement authority made a payment of £45,000 to Cellebrite.[56] Reports in the U.K. have revealed that Cellebrite’s technology is also used by London’s Metropolitan Police (also known as Scotland Yard).[57] United Arab Emirates – Reportedly operated by UAE’s Ministry of Interior since 2011.[58] Cellebrite signed a deal in Abu Dhabi in 2020, Globes reported. The deal is estimated to be worth $3 million, and was apparently signed with a government agency in Abu Dhabi.[59] Globes reported that the deal was brokered by former Israeli Mossad executive David Meidan.  In July 2021 Cellebrite published a job offer for a Director of Strategic Accounts for the UAE.[60] USA – US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has signed a contract up to $30m-$35m with Cellebrite in 2020 for “universal forensic extraction devices” (UFED), as well as other services, including accessories, licenses, training and support services – more than ten times than the value of the $2.2 million previous contract signed between the two sides in 2017.[61] Venezuela – Cellebrite sold its phone-hacking technology to Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela, despite American sanctions which ban exports to the country.[62] [63] Vietnam – an investigation revealed in 2021 that Cellebrite sold its digital forensics tools to a Vietnamese Ministry. [64]

USA

Cellebrite has acted as a strategic partner to Federal law enforcement agencies, providing technology that allows agents to hack, search, and analyze information stored on electronic devices. From 2005 to 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been the highest awarding sub agency, granting Cellebrite 206 contracts totaling $22 million – 27.43% of Cellebrite’s U.S. government contracts – for universal forensic extraction devices (UFEDs), accessories licenses, training and support services. [65]

Cellebrite has sold hacking software and training to ICE, which has allowed it access to an immense amount of personal data without a warrant – including geolocation history, internet browsing history, bank records, text messages, and photos – which they use to terrorize, detain and immigrant communities in record numbers.[66]

Since 2005, Customs and Border Protection has held over 117 contracts with Cellebrite worth around $5 million.[67] [68]As of July 2021, Cellebrite has five active contracts with CBP for UFED devices, annual licenses, and personnel training. CBP also uses Cellebrite software to track and survey immigrants, performing warrantless searches at the border and between points of entry as part of the Tech Wall. These illegal searches allow agents to gather intimate details about individuals’ lives in order to interrogate, detain, and ultimately deport individuals seeking asylum.[69]

Europe 

The potential use of its product to investigate the digital lives of people seeking asylum was outlined by Cellebrite’s VP of International Marketing in a pitch in 2019 in Morocco to government officials gathered from around the world.  According to Cellebrite’s salesperson, some “77% of refugees [sic] arrive without document”, while 43% have a smartphone during their journey – insisting that in lieu of documents, a person’s phone could be used to find out who they are, what they have been doing, where they have been, when, and ultimately why they are seeking asylum.[70] [71]

European countries are increasingly using smartphone surveillance to investigate asylum seekers. As reported by Wired, in 2017 Germany and Denmark expanded laws enabling immigration officials to conduct such examination of people’s phones, while the UK and Norway have been carrying out the practice for years.[72] In Germany, more than 8000 phones were searched in half a year after passing the powers.[73] In 2018, Austria passed a similar law.[74] In May 2018, the UK Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement authority made a payment of £45,000 to Cellebrite.[75] In 2017 Cellebrite’s technology was operated in a test-phase by the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.[83]

When asked by the audience in Morocco about legal frameworks governing its use, the Cellebrite salesperson remarked that new laws could either be introduced or existing ones amended to request people hand over their devices or be banned from entering, but that in any case there is usually “consent” from those seeking asylum.[76]

Cellebrite are openly advertising about the need of the European Union for Cellebrite’s technology to monitor and track asylum seekers and immigrants.[77]

Cellebrite is listed as an exhibitor in the World Border Security Congress in Athens, Greece in October 2021. They are also one of the sponsers of the congress.[82]

Israeli Police and the Department of Police Investigations are using Cellebrite’s technologies since 2016.[78][79] In July 2021 the Government Procurement Administration’s website published the intention of the Ministry of Internal Security/Israel Police to contract with Cellebrite. The commitment amounts to NIS 19 million for the period from August 2021 to March 2024. [80]

The Israeli National Insurance Institute uses UFED for investigations. In 2019 the institute applied for an extension of the contract till 2022.[84]

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority made a contract with Cellebrite for UFED technology service between 2019-2021.[85]

The Ministry of Justice made a 132,886 NIS worth contract with Cellebrite in 2016 [86] and renewed it in 2019 for 94,000 NIS.[87]

The Israeli Customs authority made a 442,000 NIS deal with Cellebrite in 2015.[88]