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. Government agents obtained a warrant during the 2015 investigation for records of phone numbers dialed by the suspect, as well as the cell towers to which the suspect's phone regularly connected. Cell phone towers provide general, but imprecise, location data. The DEA then used a Stingray, which mimics cell towers, to trick the suspect's phone into giving away its precise location. Once located in an apartment building, DEA agents entered the suspect's home and seized evidence. Judge William H. Pauley III of the Federal District Court said the the Stingray's use amounted to a Fourth Amendment search. "Absent a search warrant, the government may not turn a citizen's cellphone into a tracking device," said Pauley in his decision. The judge noted the DEA could have applied for a warrant to use the Stingray, but chose not to. The ACLU was quite to praise the decision. "A federal court has finally held the authorities to account. [The decision] strongly reinforces the strength of our constitutional privacy rights in the digital age." The Justice Department decided in September 2015 — after the search in this particular case took place — to require warrants for future Stingray use. Judge Pauley's decision will likely impact cases around the country wherein law enforcement used Stingrays to locate suspects without warrants.
Senators Want FCC to Investigate, Regulate Stingrays
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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.
Supreme Court Weighing Warrants for Cell Phone Location
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The Supreme Court today said it will hear a case regarding whether or not law enforcement can access certain types of cell location data without a warrant. As it stands today, the government does not need to get a warrant when seeking location and other information held by phone companies.
Court Rules Cell Location Data Fair Game
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The U.S. Court of Appeals has sided with the government and ruled that law enforcement can gather cell location records without first obtaining a warrant.
New York Court Says Police Must Get Warrant to Use Stingrays
Nov 17, 2017
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.