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Exclusive: Hyderabad Police wants to acquire Cellebrite UFED to break into smartphones, extract WhatsApp data

You're reading it here first: The Hyderabad City Police wants to acquire several invasive phone and computer cracking tools for its Cyber Crime unit, including software such as Cellebrite's UFED that can bypass, reveal or disable lock codes of several makes of smartphones including those running iOS. The department is also looking to buy software that can retrieve data from popular platforms such as WhatsApp to access contacts, chats and attachments. The state government has invited bids from solution providers who can supply these tools, install and maintain them, and even train police personnel in using them. The tender, reviewed by MediaNama, is meant for the acquisition of cyber-forensic tools for the Hyderabad City Police's SafeCity Project. The tender lists 23 equipment that the Hyderabad police is looking to acquire for its Cyber Crime Unit. The surveillance capabilities of police departments across India have always been shrouded in secrecy, with very little information in the public domain. If Hyderabad police goes through with the acquisitions mentioned in the tender, it will join the Delhi police, which has admitted to possessing such tools, including Cellebrite's UFED. As a whole, the requirements point to the direction the Telangana government wishes to go ahead with in terms of surveillance and individual privacy — the tender, among other things, talks about retrieving deleted emails, deploying 'passwares' and perpetrating brute force attacks to access smartphones. Hyderabad police commissioner Anjani Kumar couldn't be immediately reached for comment. We have reached out to WhatsApp for comment on the tender. We…

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

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