6/12/14 Stingray

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Stingray.  That’s the generic name of an electronic device that invades your privacy.  And collects data on you.

I’m not talking about identity thieves.  This is much worse.

Stingray devices are being used with increasing frequency by law enforcement at federal, state and local levels.

Generally, law enforcement would get a search warrant so that a phone company could be ordered to provide data on your cell phone, tablet device or cellular broadband card you plug into a laptop.  A judge would issue a search warrant when presented with probable cause that a crime has been committed.

But some law enforcement are skipping the search warrant.  And are using stingray devices.  These devices masquerade as a cell phone tower causing cell phones, tablets and laptops to ping the tower.  Giving away their locations. Then law enforcement proceed with collecting more data.

Not just on the target.  But on everyone – including innocent bystanders in the vicinity. 

In violation of the Fourth Amendment.

By cutting out the judges, law enforcement are eliminating constitutional checks and balances.  They are breaking the law.  Just like identity thieves.

Some are going to great lengths to do so.  The Tallahassee Police Department intentionally withheld from the court the fact it had used stingray more than 200 times in a single year.  They argued the non-disclosure agreement the department signed with the manufacturer took precedence over the law [here].

[In one case, U.S. Marshals confiscated stingray records belonging to the Sarasota, Florida before they could be released under a Freedom of Information Act request.] 

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