Item of Interest

FBI’s “Investigative Kiosks” allow quick data extraction from cell phones

It seems that every day, manufacturers add features to the garden-variety cell phone that make these mobile devices increasingly valuable as items of evidence. Text messages, call logs, e-mails, photographs, videos—all of this data and more can be found on many cell phones today.

To help local, state, and federal law enforcement deal with an increased demand in analyzing cell-phone data, the FBI has been launching Cell Phone Investigative Kiosks (CPIKs) in FBI Field Offices and Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory (RCFL) locations across the country. The CPIK allows users to extract data from a cell phone, put it into a report, and burn the report onto a CD or DVD in as little as 30 minutes.

Kiosk users only need to have some familiarity with computers and are required to take a one-time only, hour-long training course. Assistance with the kiosks is also available on site at CPIK locations.

Each CPIK has two components: 1) a cell phone examination system that contains software and the necessary cables to download data; and 2) a photographic system that enables a user to take pictures of a cell phone’s screen.

Users of the CPIK are able to:

  • Copy data from a cell phone to a computer hard drive
  • Examine data in a report format on the computer screen
  • Copy the report onto a portable device (such as a CD or DVD)
  • Copy the photographs onto a portable device (such as a CD or DVD)

While the CPIK is intended to be a preview tool—not equivalent to a full-scale cell-phone examination such as that performed by a certified examiner—any evidence produced using the tool is admissible in a court of law.

Non-FBI personnel may access the kiosks at their local RCFL. For CPIKs located at an FBI Field Office, non-FBI personnel must have an FBI escort at all times.
To locate a CPIK near you and to learn more about the program, go to:

'Item of Interest"
March-April 2010 (Volume 8, Number 2)
Evidence Technology Magazine
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