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Court rules police must get a warrant before using ‘StingRay’ spying devices

September 21, 2017

 big-brother-watching-you-via-cellphone I have written a few posts on StingRay devices in the past, with the last one coming in 2016 when a judge threw out evidence in a case which was gathered with a StingRay without a warrant. It was also reported in 2015 that the IRS and other government agencies were using these devices to spy on cellphones.

  In case you are not familiar with what a “StingRay” is, it is basically a device which can create a fake cellphone tower and whenever any cellphone ventures into the StingRay’s cover zone it is tricked into connecting to it, at that point metadata and other personal information can be retrieved by whomever is behind setting up the StingRay even if that person is not the subject of an investigation. This is all being done without warrants in many cases.

  To me this is blatantly unconstitutional and today a fourth court has ruled that the police must obtain a warrant before they can use this device, here is more:

A device that tricks cellphones into sending it their location information and has been used quietly by police and federal agents for years, requires a search warrant before it is turned on, an appeals court in Washington ruled Thursday. It is the fourth such ruling by either a state appeals court or federal district court, and may end up deciding the issue unless the government takes the case to the U.S. Supreme Court or persuades the city’s highest court to reverse the ruling.

  This device can send more than location information otherwise it would not be needed, even if you do not have GPS enabled on your phone your location can be determined by which WiFi network you connect to or by which cellphone tower you are on.

  The ACLU applauded this decision and so do I:

“This opinion,” said Nathan F. Wessler of the American Civil Liberties Union, who helped argue the case with the D.C. Public Defender Service, “joins the growing chorus of courts holding that the Fourth Amendment protects against warrantless use of invasive, covert technology to track people’s phones. … We applaud today’s opinion for erecting sensible and strong protections against the government violating  people’s privacy in the digital age.”

  This fight is most likely not over, there is sure to be a challenge, but at least for today the Constitution won.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium


6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 22, 2017 4:01 am

    Reblogged this on Brittius.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. September 22, 2017 6:25 am

    One small step… but good news and we sure need some.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 22, 2017 7:18 pm

      We have to take what we can get at this point, not much is going our way right now.


  3. October 23, 2017 12:50 pm

    The unfortunate truth here is that police are not following the constitution. They are not allowing defendants to view the evidence required in the foundation of our justice system, when stingrays are used. The company who makes stingrays has requested a gag order on how they use, where they use, and when they use. Harris Corp has protected their investigative technique through requesting police not to name it during trial. All at the expense of our constitution.

    So defendants do not have the proper right to view evidence during discovery. Instead the police are now using what is known as “parallel construction.” Parallel construction is where they use a stingray to gather all kinds of information unethically, but bring to court a completely different set of evidence. Say for example they find out where someone commits a crime with a stingray unwarranted (they collect 10,000 random phones all at once) and from there they find evidence. They may lie in court and say they had an informant in place of the stingray when no informant ever existed at all. Or they may find out someone transferred their legally owned firearm when forgetting to unload it through use of stingray and give an unethical tip to a local officer to pull them over for “crossing the yellow line.” They lose their constitutional right to bare arms. They go to jail.

    This goes completely against the US constitution and parallel construction is being protected nationwide. We live in a country where 45% of white men & 47% of black men ages 18-33 have a criminal record. Most sensible adults would think almost 50% of those 18-33 have a criminal record would mean something is WRONG in this country. And yet we don’t bother to question if we should rethink our justice system the slightest. Half of it being hidden from us, including our constitutional rights.


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