Stingray technology is a data tool for capturing cell phone communication and tracking cell phone users. Stingray Systems mimic cell tower signals and capture the content of targeted cell phone users.
The New York ACLU went to court to force Erie County Sheriffs’ to disclose details about the law enforcement use of Stingray Technology. What they uncovered is alarming. In 46 out of 47 examples law enforcement never sought a warrant to use Stingray intercepts, and in 46 out of 47 examples the same law enforcement used Stingray tools to track the movements of “suspects” – again without warrants or court oversight.
(NYCLU April 7, 2015) — The New York Civil Liberties Union released today records it received from the Erie County Sheriff’s Office on its use of ”stingrays,” devices that can track and record New Yorkers’ locations via their cell phones. The records showed that of the 47 times the Sheriff’s Office used stingrays in the past four years, it apparently only once obtained a court order, contradicting the sheriff’s own remarks.
“These records confirm some of the very worst fears about local law enforcement’s use of this expensive and intrusive surveillance equipment,” said NYCLU Staff Attorney Mariko Hirose. “Not only did the Sheriff’s Office promise the FBI breathtaking secrecy to keep information about stingrays as hidden as possible, it implemented almost no privacy protections for the Erie County residents it is sworn to protect and serve.”
Stingrays can collect information on all cell phones in a given area as well as precisely track particular phones, locating people within their own home, at a doctor’s office, at a political protest or in a church.
In March, a Supreme Court Justice ruled that the Sheriff’s Office must disclose information about stingrays after the NYCLU sued the office for failing to follow the law and respond to public information requests about how it uses the devices.
The court ordered disclosure of all existing records requested by the NYCLU, including purchase orders, a letter from the stingrays’ manufacturer, a confidentiality agreement with between the Sheriff’s Office and the FBI, a procedural manual and summary reports of instances in which the device was used.
The records reveal that: (continue reading)