Wednesday, January 25, 2017



Cato has a very interesting article on Stingrays.
Across the United States, federal and state law enforcement agencies are sweeping up cell phone and location data from American  citizens  using  a  device  colloquially referred to as a “stingray.” Stingray surveillance devices  are  cellular  site  simulators—they  mimic  the  signal  of  a  cell phone  tower  in  order  to  force  cell  phones  in  the  area  to  connect.  Once a phone connects, the officer can download information from the phone or track its location.
Pretty cool technology. US Armed Forces have used it in hostile areas, but unfortunately law enforcement domestic typically gets their hands on military gear when wars wind down. MRAPs, for instance. 

But unless it's abused, it's not really used. And the federal government, Stingray's manufacturer, Harris Corp., and the beneficiaries of the technology transfer, the state and local governments, are eager to keep this secret.

U.S. Marshals literally raided the Sarasota Police Department and seized stingray documentation in order to prevent the department from complying with a state-level freedom of information request. The Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had recently secured an order requiring the Sarasota police to turn over documents pertaining to stingray use. To prevent that information from being turned over to the ACLU and the public, the U.S. Marshals Service launched a pre-dawn raid on the police department to take possession of the information. The federal government has also urged local law enforcement agencies to deceive state judges, and continues to exert pressure in favor of secrecy rather than public disclosure and oversight.
Think of that: a police department is the target of a raid in order to stop the department from complying with a Court order.

I hope Trump puts a stop to this, but I doubt it. I think he's too interested the law and order theme. Maybe he'll pleasantly surprise me.


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