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. Stingrays act like cell towers and trick phones into connecting with them. Once connected, police are able to pull location, call, messaging, and other data from handsets in bulk. One complaint about stingrays centers on the fact that they collect data on thousands of innocent citizens while police search for specific devices. The law was backed by the ACLU and tech companies including Airbnb, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Its broad language means it can be applied to future technologies if needed. "Governor Brown just signed a law that says 'no' to warrantless government snooping in our digital information. This is a landmark win for digital privacy and all Californians," said Nicole Ozer, an ACLU lawyer. California isn't the first to enact such legislation. Similar laws already exist in Minnesota, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. The law covers California-based law enforcement, but not federal organizations.
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Warrant Required for Stingray Use in Washington
Washington Governor Jay Inslee today signed a bill mandating that law enforcement obtain a warrant before using stingray devices within the state's borders. The law, which goes into effect immediately, is one of the strongest in the country as it requires police to describe how the stingray will be used to collect data.
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.
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.
Senators Want FCC to Investigate, Regulate Stingrays
A number of senators have asked the FCC to look into law enforcement's use of stingrays to see if the tool puts the public at risk, and also to see if stingrays unfairly target minority groups. Stingrays masquerade as cell towers in order to collect location and other data from phones in a given area.