UFED

Universal Forensic Extraction Device

UFED (Universal Forensic Extraction Device)[1] is a device developed by the Israeli Company Cellebrite, 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[2] , 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.[3] 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.[4]

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. [5] A 2014 CNN segment on the company counted 140 different police clients worldwide.[6]

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.” [7]

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

Countries that used UFED:

Bahrain – According to an investigation by The Intercept, in 2013, the Bahraini government used Cellebrite’s UFED to prosecute political activists.[8] 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.[9] [10]

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.[11]

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.[12] Lukashenko administration has purchased and used Cellebrite‘s hacking technology since 2016.[13]

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.[14]

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.[15] Pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong announced that Cellebrite’s technology was used to search his device.[16] 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.[17]

Germany – German state police uses Cellebrite’s technology for crime investigation and customs service investigations.[18] Bavarian crime police unit purchased UFED from Cellebrite in 2018.[19] In 2017 Cellebrite’s UFED was operated in a test-phase by the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.[20]

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.[21]

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.[22]

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.[23] [24] [25] In 2020 Cellebrite pitched Indian Police its their technology to trace coronavirus.[26]

Indonesia – Haaretz reported that Indonesia employed the UFED technology to stifle political dissent and to enforce controversial “modesty” laws.[27]

Myanmar – reportedly used Cellebrite’s UFED to retrieve documents from journalists’ phones.[28] 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.[29]

Nigeria – Nigerian security forces use UFED by Cellebrite.[30]

PortugalCellebrite’s UFED is used by Guarda Nacional Republicana.[31]

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.[32] [33]

Saudi Arabia – Cellebrite provided Phone-hacking Services to Saudi Arabia in 2019.[34]

The Seychelles – In 2017 UNODC provided the Seychelles Commissioner of Police with Cellebrite’s UFED that will be used by the Seychelles Police Force.[35]

South Korea – used by public institutions through Cellebrite Korea (Israeli-Korean partnership) since 2019.[36]

Spain – In Spain, Cellebrite has been contracted by the Spanish Army, Policia Nacional and Guardia Civil.[37] 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.[38] [39] 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.[40] 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.[41] OnRetrieval is Cellebrite’s official representative/distributor in Spain for the marketing of its tools.[42]

Tanzania – In 2017 Cellebrite’s UFED was provided to assist maritime law enforcement units. The equipment was funded through the EU MASE programme.[43]

Turkey – in use by Turkey’s national police force since 2011.[44]

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.[45] In 2018, the UK Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement authority made a payment of £45,000 to Cellebrite.[46] Reports in the U.K. have revealed that Cellebrite’s technology is also used by London’s Metropolitan Police (also known as Scotland Yard).[47]

United Arab Emirates – Reportedly operated by UAE’s Ministry of Interior since 2011.[48] 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.[49]

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.[50]

Venezuela – Cellebrite sold its phone-hacking technology to Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela, despite American sanctions which ban exports to the country.[51] [52]

Vietnam – an investigation revealed in 2021 that Cellebrite sold its digital forensics tools to a Vietnamese Ministry. [53]

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. [54]

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.[55]

Since 2005, Customs and Border Protection has held over 117 contracts with Cellebrite worth around $5 million.[56] [57] 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.[58]

Europe 

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.[59] In Germany, more than 8000 phones were searched in half a year after passing the powers.[60] In 2018, Austria passed a similar law.[61] In May 2018, the UK Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement authority made a payment of £45,000 to Cellebrite.[62] In 2017 Cellebrite’s UFED was operated in a test-phase by the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.[63]

Use by Israeli Forces and Authorities:

Israeli Police and the Department of Police Investigations are using Cellebrite’s technologies since 2016. [64] [65] 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. [66]

1. ^ https://www.cellebrite.com/en/ufed/

2. ^ https://www.cellebrite.com/en/physical-analyzer/

3. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/tech-news/.premium-revealed-israeli-firm-provided-phone-hacking-services-to-saudi-arabia-1.9161374

4. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/tech-news/.premium-revealed-israeli-firm-provided-phone-hacking-services-to-saudi-arabia-1.9161374

5. ^ https://www.businessinsider.com/cellebrite-ceo-going-public-apple-samsung-private-sector-moxie-marlinspike-2021-6

6. ^ https://youtu.be/QtGQXthgxgA

7. ^ https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/0001854587/000121390021026630/ff42021_cellebritedi.htm

8. ^ https://theintercept.com/2016/12/08/phone-cracking-cellebrite-software-used-to-prosecute-tortured-dissident/

9. ^ https://privacyinternational.org/long-read/2776/surveillance-company-cellebrite-finds-new-exploit-spying-asylum-seekers

10. ^ https://theintercept.com/2016/12/08/phone-cracking-cellebrite-software-used-to-prosecute-tortured-dissident/

11. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/tech-news/.premium.HIGHLIGHT-israeli-cellebrite-sold-spy-tech-to-bangladesh-death-squad-1.9603377

12. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-phone-hacking-firm-cellebrite-halts-sales-to-russia-after-haaretz-report-1.9633312?lts=1627559779468

13. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/israeli-cyber-intel-firms-pitch-governments-on-spy-tools-to-trace-the-coronavirus-1.8805775

14. ^ https://cpj.org/2021/07/botswana-cellebrite-search-journalists-phone/

15. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-human-rights-activists-urge-israel-to-stop-spy-tool-exports-to-hong-kong-police-1.9027488

16. ^ https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/hong-kong-democracy-activists-to-israel-stop-exporting-tech-to-police-636918#/

17. ^ https://www.cellebrite.com/en/cellebrite-to-stop-selling-its-digital-intelligence-offerings-in-hong-kong-china/

18. ^ https://netzpolitik.org/2018/digitale-forensik-mit-diesen-sieben-programmen-liest-die-polizei-smartphone-daten-aus/

19. ^ https://ted.europa.eu/udl?uri=TED:NOTICE:154832-2018:TEXT:DE:HTML&tabId=1

20. ^ https://dserver.bundestag.de/btd/19/066/1906647.pdf

21. ^ https://www.iom.int/supply-and-delivery-cellebrite-ufed-software-based-mobile-forensic-solution

22. ^ https://cpj.org/2020/07/us-uk-interpol-give-ghana-phone-hacking-tools-raising-journalist-concerns-on-safety-and-confidentiality/

23. ^ https://www.medianama.com/2020/12/223-exclusive-delhi-police-has-tools-extract-data-from-smartphones-iphones/

24. ^ https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/i-m-under-surveillance-claims-trinamool-mp-mahua-moitra-writes-to-delhi-police-chief-1768959-2021-02-13

25. ^ https://www.news18.com/news/tech/facial-recognition-and-trade-secrets-what-exactly-are-police-forces-doing-with-surveillance-tech-3145223.html

26. ^ https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-spy-specialreport-idUSKCN22A2G1

27. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/tech-news/.premium.HIGHLIGHT-hacking-grindr-israel-s-cellebrite-sold-phone-spy-tech-to-indonesia-1.9281160

28. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/security-tech-companies-once-flocked-to-myanmar-one-firms-tools-were-used-against-two-journalists-/2019/05/04/d4e9f7f0-5b5d-11e9-b8e3-b03311fbbbfe_story.html?utm_term=.ca893481e554

29. ^ https://freedomhouse.org/country/myanmar/freedom-net/2020

30. ^ https://cpj.org/2019/10/nigerian-military-target-journalists-phones-forensic-search/

31. ^ https://www.gnr.pt/InstrumentosGestao/2020/PA_GNR_2020.pdf

32. ^ https://www.cellebrite.com/en/cellebrite-stops-selling-its-digital-intelligence-offerings-in-russian-federation-and-belarus/

33. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-what-s-israeli-phone-hacking-firm-cellebrite-doing-in-sanctioned-belarus-1.9081883

34. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/tech-news/.premium-revealed-israeli-firm-provided-phone-hacking-services-to-saudi-arabia-1.9161374

35. ^ https://www.unodc.org/documents/Maritime_crime/UNODC_ANUAL_REPORT_2017_web.pdf

36. ^ https://www.goldencellebrite.com/

37. ^ http://mass-surveillance.odhe.cat/companies/cellebrite/

38. ^ https://twitter.com/cellebrite/status/808989919469301761?lang=ar (last entrance: 29.07.2021)

39. ^ https://www.intelligenceonline.com/surveillance–interception/2021/05/20/excem-israeli-cyber-s-bridgehead-in-spain,109667518-art

40. ^ https://www.elespanol.com/espana/20171211/268724202_0.html

41. ^ https://appleinsider.com/articles/17/07/06/spanish-media-claims-iphone-6-with-secure-enclave-unlocked-by-cellebrite-in-course-of-investigation

42. ^ https://onretrieval.pt/hardware/cellebrite/

43. ^ https://www.unodc.org/documents/Maritime_crime/UNODC_ANUAL_REPORT_2017_web.pdf

44. ^ https://www.vice.com/en/article/aekqjj/cellebrite-sold-phone-hacking-tech-to-repressive-regimes-data-suggests

45. ^ http://mass-surveillance.odhe.cat/companies/cellebrite/

46. ^ https://privacyinternational.org/long-read/2776/surveillance-company-cellebrite-finds-new-exploit-spying-asylum-seekers

47. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/tech-news/.premium-israeli-u-k-police-urged-to-stop-using-cellebrite-phone-hacking-tech-1.9745075

48. ^ https://www.vice.com/en/article/aekqjj/cellebrite-sold-phone-hacking-tech-to-repressive-regimes-data-suggests

49. ^ https://en.globes.co.il/en/article-cellebrite-1001346762

50. ^ https://www.jpost.com/international/ice-signs-30m-contract-with-israeli-spy-firm-601925

51. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/tech-news/.premium-despite-sanctions-israeli-firm-sold-phone-hacking-tech-to-venezuela-1.9144879

52. ^ https://cpj.org/2021/06/israeli-lawyer-eitay-mack-transparency-surveillance-press-freedom/

53. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/tech-news/.premium-what-vietnam-is-doing-with-israel-s-phone-hacking-tech-1.10003831

54. ^ https://www.usaspending.gov/search/?hash=9fe3166cd00eb137f67185b03762ce11

55. ^ https://www.aclu.org/blog/privacy-technology/internet-privacy/mobile-phone-cloning-tools-need-be-subject-oversight-and

56. ^ https://www.usaspending.gov/search/?hash=34df1ead0a3eb58467035561e33d9a70

57. ^ https://www.usaspending.gov/search/?hash=34df1ead0a3eb58467035561e33d9a70

58. ^ https://justfutureslaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Fact-Sheet-Dangers-of-Biden-Tech-Wall.pdf

59. ^ https://www.wired.co.uk/article/europe-immigration-refugees-smartphone-metadata-deportations

60. ^ http://www.mixedmigration.org/articles/hype-or-hope-new-evidence-on-the-use-of-smartphones-and-social-media-in-mixed-migration/

61. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-43823166

62. ^ https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/741541/Home-Office-Spending-25000-May-2018-CSV.csv/preview

63. ^ https://dserver.bundestag.de/btd/19/066/1906647.pdf

64. ^ https://www.israeldefense.co.il/node/42592

65. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/tech-news/.premium-israeli-u-k-police-urged-to-stop-using-cellebrite-phone-hacking-tech-1.9745075

66. ^ https://www.readitnow.co.il/news/%d7%9e%d7%99-%d7%9e%d7%aa%d7%9b%d7%95%d7%95%d7%a0%d7%aa-%d7%9c%d7%a8%d7%9b%d7%95%d7%a9-%d7%aa%d7%95%d7%9b%d7%a0%d7%95%d7%aa-%d7%97%d7%91%d7%a8%d7%aa-%d7%a1%d7%9c%d7%91%d7%a8%d7%99%d7%99%d7%98-%d7%91/

UFED

UFED (Universal Forensic Extraction Device)[1] is a device developed by the Israeli Company Cellebrite, 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[2] , 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.[3] 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.[4]

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. [5] A 2014 CNN segment on the company counted 140 different police clients worldwide.[6]

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.” [7]

Bahrain – According to an investigation by The Intercept, in 2013, the Bahraini government used Cellebrite’s UFED to prosecute political activists.[8] 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.[9] [10]

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.[11]

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.[12] Lukashenko administration has purchased and used Cellebrite‘s hacking technology since 2016.[13]

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.[14]

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.[15] Pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong announced that Cellebrite’s technology was used to search his device.[16] 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.[17]

Germany – German state police uses Cellebrite’s technology for crime investigation and customs service investigations.[18] Bavarian crime police unit purchased UFED from Cellebrite in 2018.[19] In 2017 Cellebrite’s UFED was operated in a test-phase by the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.[20]

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.[21]

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.[22]

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.[23] [24] [25] In 2020 Cellebrite pitched Indian Police its their technology to trace coronavirus.[26]

Indonesia – Haaretz reported that Indonesia employed the UFED technology to stifle political dissent and to enforce controversial “modesty” laws.[27]

Myanmar – reportedly used Cellebrite’s UFED to retrieve documents from journalists’ phones.[28] 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.[29]

Nigeria – Nigerian security forces use UFED by Cellebrite.[30]

PortugalCellebrite’s UFED is used by Guarda Nacional Republicana.[31]

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.[32] [33]

Saudi Arabia – Cellebrite provided Phone-hacking Services to Saudi Arabia in 2019.[34]

The Seychelles – In 2017 UNODC provided the Seychelles Commissioner of Police with Cellebrite’s UFED that will be used by the Seychelles Police Force.[35]

South Korea – used by public institutions through Cellebrite Korea (Israeli-Korean partnership) since 2019.[36]

Spain – In Spain, Cellebrite has been contracted by the Spanish Army, Policia Nacional and Guardia Civil.[37] 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.[38] [39] 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.[40] 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.[41] OnRetrieval is Cellebrite’s official representative/distributor in Spain for the marketing of its tools.[42]

Tanzania – In 2017 Cellebrite’s UFED was provided to assist maritime law enforcement units. The equipment was funded through the EU MASE programme.[43]

Turkey – in use by Turkey’s national police force since 2011.[44]

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.[45] In 2018, the UK Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement authority made a payment of £45,000 to Cellebrite.[46] Reports in the U.K. have revealed that Cellebrite’s technology is also used by London’s Metropolitan Police (also known as Scotland Yard).[47]

United Arab Emirates – Reportedly operated by UAE’s Ministry of Interior since 2011.[48] 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.[49]

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.[50]

Venezuela – Cellebrite sold its phone-hacking technology to Nicolás Maduro’s regime in Venezuela, despite American sanctions which ban exports to the country.[51] [52]

Vietnam – an investigation revealed in 2021 that Cellebrite sold its digital forensics tools to a Vietnamese Ministry. [53]

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. [54]

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.[55]

Since 2005, Customs and Border Protection has held over 117 contracts with Cellebrite worth around $5 million.[56] [57] 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.[58]

Europe 

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.[59] In Germany, more than 8000 phones were searched in half a year after passing the powers.[60] In 2018, Austria passed a similar law.[61] In May 2018, the UK Home Office’s Immigration Enforcement authority made a payment of £45,000 to Cellebrite.[62] In 2017 Cellebrite’s UFED was operated in a test-phase by the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.[63]

Israeli Police and the Department of Police Investigations are using Cellebrite’s technologies since 2016. [64] [65] 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. [66]