Intrusive Cell Phone Surveillance Monitors Calls and Text Messages
according to Discover Posted by Homeland Security Inspector General Dr. Joseph Cuffari, the Secret Service and ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations have repeatedly failed to obtain the proper legal paperwork when conducting invasive cell phone surveillance. The agencies did not obtain proper search warrants before hacking into many individuals’ private phones.
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What did the Secret Service and ICE do wrong?
Cuffari asserted that the Secret Service and ICE did two main things wrong. The first issue is that the two departments are accused of failing to obtain the necessary warrants for the parties that were listening and claiming that all parties agreed to their listening.
The second issue is the way the Secret Service uses base station simulators, or “stingrays,” to support requests from local law enforcement agencies. There are now numerous reported cases in which the departments were unable to produce any evidence that a search warrant was requested from Cuffari in order to obtain an emergency court order.
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What is a stingray?
Cell site simulators, or “stingrays,” are electronic surveillance devices used by law enforcement to locate or identify potential criminal suspects by mimicking cell towers and tricking nearby cell phones into connecting to them. This allows the police to track a person’s real-time location. While this method can be very helpful to law enforcement, its use is controversial.
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The problem with stingrays is that they go after not only the person whose phone law enforcement tapped, but every other device within their range, even ones that aren’t involved in any criminal activity.
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Stingrays have historically been developed under very strict non-disclosure agreements, meaning law enforcement cannot even publicly disclose everything they know about how it works.
In some cases, the use of cell site simulators has been challenged in court, with some arguing that they violate Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure.
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when your phone is monitored
Cuffari has now determined that because stingrays are so invasive and also target those who are completely innocent and not implicated, law enforcement is now required to obtain a judge-authorized search warrant before using this investigative method.
The only time this isn’t required is in an emergency, such as if law enforcement believes they must act as quickly as possible to prevent loss of life or destruction of evidence.
Even in this case, however, law enforcement must still apply for a court order within 48 hours of using this method and demonstrate why they believed it was necessary at the time.
What do you think about the use of Stingray? We want to know your thoughts.
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