Nathan Freed Wessler, Al Jazeera (June 2014):
Cell site simulators, also known as “stingrays,” are devices that trick cellphones into reporting their locations and identifying information. They do so by mimicking cellphone towers and sending out electronic cues that allow the police to enlist cellphones as tracking devices, thus revealing people’s movements with great precision. The equipment also sends intrusive electronic signals through the walls of private homes and offices, learning information about the locations and identities of phones inside. Initially the domain of the National Security Agency (NSA) and other intelligence agencies, the use of stingrays has trickled down to federal, state and local law enforcement. In one Florida case, a police officer explained in court that he “quite literally stood in front of every door and window” with his stingray to track the phones inside a large apartment complex.
RT is reporting claims that this surveillance was used to monitor Chicago protesters of the killing of Eric Garner.
Linda Lye, ACLU:
The ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation have filed an amicus brief in what will be the first case in the country to address the constitutional implications of a so-called “stingray,” a little known device that can be used to track a suspect’s location and engage in other types of surveillance. We argue that if the government wants to use invasive surveillance technology like this, it must explain the technology to the courts so they can perform their judicial oversight function as required by the Constitution.
The government in Rigmaiden’s case acknowledges that using the stingray was a “search” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. So far so good. But then it claims that it got a “warrant” to authorize the search. The problem, however, is that the papers the government submitted to get the so-called “warrant” never told the judge that the government wanted to use a stingray (or IMSI catcher, or cell site emulator), what the device is, or how it works. In other words, the government hid from the judge the facts that stingrays collect information about third parties, that they can pinpoint targets even within their homes, and that some models capture content, not just location.
The Administration lying under oath?
Who could have imagined.
Using this sort of technology to suppress lawful protests is an abuse to add to the long train of abuses that the Constitution has endured lately.