Welcome to the Police State
Democrat Baltimore is electronically spying on
Americans without a search warrant.
(RT News) - Baltimore, like many other US police forces, increasingly employs indiscriminate 'stingray' surveillance technology for common, petty crimes while concealing that usage from suspects, their attorneys, and judges, according to a new report.
Long billed as a groundbreaking tool to thwart terror plots or other major crimes, a suitcase-sized cell-site simulator was used by the Baltimore Police Department to nab a phone thief, catch a woman who sent “threatening and annoying” text messages, and someone who stole credit cards to pay two months' rent at a self-storage unit.
Surveillance records show that Baltimore police used stingray technology in 837 criminal cases identified by USA Today.
In addition, Baltimore authorities routinely hid proof of stingray usage in court, with about a third of cases ending up in dismissal and only about a 50-percent conviction rate.
Maryland state law requires defense lawyers to be told about any use of electronic surveillance.
The Harris Corporation’s ‘Stingray’ is the most well known of the controversial spying technology, used by the FBI, the Secret Service, the Drug Enforcement Agency and many state and local police agencies. By impersonating cell towers, the devices force phones in the area to broadcast information that can be used to identify and locate users. The devices are able to indiscriminately collect and intercept data from hundreds of phones at once, though they cannot capture contents of communications.
Cell-site simulators in Baltimore were used in at least 176 homicide cases, 118 shootings, and 47 rapes since 2008, according to USA Today's investigation, with robberies making up most of the crimes in which stingrays were utilized. Both suspects and witnesses were tracked down with the help of a stingray.
“The problem is you can’t have it both ways. You can’t have it be some super-secret national security terrorist finder and then use it to solve petty crimes,” Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Hanni Fakhoury said.
Stingray use has been shielded from Baltimore public defenders and prosecutors alike.
“I am astounded at the extent to which police have been so aggressively using this technology, how long they’ve been using it and the extent to which they have gone to create ruses to shield that use,” Stephen Mercer, the chief of forensics for Maryland’s public defenders, told USA Today.
In April, it was revealed that the Baltimore Police Department used stingrays thousands of times during the last decade without search warrants, staying largely silent on the topic upon orders from the FBI. Baltimore police signed a non-disclosure agreement with the FBI in 2011.
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