Feds to Require Warrants for Cellphone Trackers
The Justice Department has issued new policy concerning the use of Stingrays to collect cellphone data and will require warrants moving forward. Stingrays, also called dirtboxes, mimic cell towers and can record the data of every cell phone they encounter. The boxes are most often used by federal officers in cars as they drive around seeking specific phones. The issue, complain privacy advocates, is that the Stingrays scoop up data from innocent Americans in the process. The government has used the Stingrays without warrants for years and has held onto the data indefinitely. In addition to requiring warrants, federal law enforcement will be forced to delete the data collected by Stingrays at least once per day. High-level government officials will have to approve airborne use of the devices, which can grab data from hundreds of thousands of phones. The new federal policy does not apply to local and state police agencies, which report to local judges. It also doesn't apply to the Department of Homeland Security, though similar changes are being made there, too. The new federal policy specifically bars government agents from examining the contents of communications snagged by Stingrays, such as phone conversations, text messages, and photos. The changes are being lauded as a step forward in protecting Americans' constitutional rights.
House Panel Says Stingrays Need Federal Guidelines
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, a bipartisan panel, this week recommended that the federal government pass rules to manage the use stingrays and other cell-site simulating devices. The panel said in a report that law enforcement agencies have varying and inconsistent rules for the use of such devices.
California to Require Warrants for Stingrays
California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new law that prohibits the government from snooping on citizens' electronic communications without first obtaining a warrant. The law, called the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act, forbids the government from "accessing electronic device information by means of physical interaction or electronic communication with the device." For example, police will no longer be able to use stingrays unless they get permission from a judge to do so.
Judge Says Law Enforcement Needs Warrant to Use Stingrays
A federal judge has tossed evidence discovered by Drug Enforcement Administration officers after they used a Stingray to locate a suspect without a warrant. The case involves a drug trafficking ring in New York City.
New York Court Says Police Must Get Warrant to Use Stingrays
Moving forward, New York law enforcement agencies will need to go before a judge and obtain an eavesdropping warrant if they wish to use stingrays to track suspects' cellphones. Stingrays spoof cell towers and fool cell phones into connecting with them.