|Now used by police to spy on you, the StingRay was first developed for military.|
California Unites Against Big Brother
Democrats and Republicans unite at the state level to get control of
Federally funded Big Brother spying programs.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A bill that would take the first step in limiting the use of “stingrays” to track the location of phones and sweep up electronic communications passed out of the state Senate on Friday. The bill would not only protect privacy in California, but would also hinder part of the federal surveillance state.
Cell site simulators, known as “stingrays,” spoof cell phone towers. Any device within range is essentially tricked into connecting to the stingray instead of the tower, allowing law enforcement to sweep up communications content, as well as locate and track the person in possession of a specific phone or other electronic device.
Sen. Jerry Hill introduced Senate Bill 741 (SB741) to prohibit a local agency from acquiring or using a stingray device unless “approved by a resolution or ordinance adopted by its legislative body at a regularly scheduled public meeting where the public has a reasonable opportunity to comment.” The bill also requires the resolution or ordinance to set forth policies on stingray use based on specific guidelines outlined int the legislation.
SB741 passed the state Senate by a vote of 39-0 on Friday.
Recent revelations prove police departments have used stingrays for surveillance under a shroud of secrecy with the encouragement and support of the FBI. Last summer, documents reveals the Tacoma Police Department used stingray devices in virtual secrecy for six years. According to the Tacoma News Tribune, “Neither the Pierce County Prosecutors Office, nor public defenders — not even superior court judges — were aware of Tacoma police using this surveillance technique.” The paper reported that Police Chief Don Ramsdell refused to comment for its story, citing an FBI non-disclosure agreement.
“Sunshine is a powerful antiseptic,” OffNow founder and deputy director Michael Boldin said. “Passage of this bill would shine a bright light on the use of stingray technology in California, and would certainly have a practical effect of limiting their use.”
Passage of SB741 would create a foundation for further action to limit stingray use. The next step would entail establishing a warrant requirement for use of a stingray device.
IMPACT ON FEDERAL PROGRAMS
The federal government funds the vast majority of state and local stingray programs, attaching one important condition. The feds require agencies acquiring the technology to sign non-disclosure agreements, as alluded to by the Tacoma police chief. This throws a giant shroud over the program, even preventing judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys from getting information about the use of stingrays in court. The feds actually instruct prosecutors to withdraw evidence if judges or legislators press for information.
The Baltimore Sun reported that last fall, a Baltimore detective refused to answer questions on the stand during a trial, citing a federal non-disclosure agreement.
Defense attorney Joshua Insley asked Cabreja about the agreement.“Does this document instruct you to withhold evidence from the state’s attorney and Circuit Court, even upon court order to produce?” he asked.“Yes,” Cabreja said.
As privacysos.org put it, “The FBI would rather police officers and prosecutors let ‘criminals’ go than face a possible scenario where a defendant brings a Fourth Amendment challenge to warrantless stingray spying.”
The feds sell the technology in the name of “anti-terrorism” efforts. With non-disclosure agreements in place, most police departments refuse to release any information on the use of stingrays. But information obtained from the Tacoma Police Department revealed that it uses the technology primarily for routine criminal investigations.(Read More - Tenth Amendment Center)