Last updated on April 8th, 2016
The federal government is using a new tool called “Stingray” to intercept and track people by their cell phone, and have apparently been using it without a warrant.
The secretive federal law enforcement device is being used with increased frequency, and is being challenged by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the ACLU who say that its use has enormous consequences for an individuals’ Fourth Amendment rights.
While the justification for using Stingray is to track and/or capture criminals, its usage invades the privacy of countless innocent people that have never even been suspected of a crime as it scoops up cell phone signals within its range… And who’s to say its usage will ‘only’ be used for ‘criminals’? Who’s in charge of the surveillance decisions? Where’s the oversight?
The Stingray is a portable device that acts as a fake cell tower and can gather data on nearby cellphones or locate a single phone even if it isn’t making a call. Stingray equipment can be carried by hand or mounted on vehicles or even drones or planes. Federal agents have also used the stingray to locate WiFi and MiFi broadband cards (a device that enables a computer or laptop to connect with the Internet through a cellphone network).
The EFF and ACLU says this regarding an inquiry to the federal government:
“The government withheld information that it was using a stingray, how it works at all and that it affects third parties,”
“…laws on electronic tracking were written before these tools were in use.”
“…federal agents haven’t provided details on how the tool works or would be used — and even seemed to have trouble explaining the technology.”
It appears that the Stingray is yet another secretive government tool capable of spying/tracking anyone within its chosen target range – potentially without just cause or warrant – depending on who’s ‘calling the shots’…