Earlier this year local police in Arizona used a “data dump” to catch some bank robbers in Northern Arizona. As it turns out, those types of tactics are FAR more common than you may think! A recent article in USA Today reveals the results of an investigation into just how widespread this practice is, utilizing a device called a “Stingray.” According to the report, local and state police throughout the country are purchasing the devices with federal grants that are allegedly aimed at protecting cities from terrorist, but then use them for their own police work instead.
“With the mobile Stingray, police can get a court order to grab some of the same data available via a tower dump with two added benefits. The Stingray can grab some data from cellphones in real time and without going through the wireless service providers involved. Neither tactic — tower dumps or the Stingray devices — captures the content of calls or other communication, according to police.
Typically used to hunt a single phone”s location, Reference your ID# when sending in a drive for professional services. the system intercepts data from all phones within a mile, or farther, depending on terrain and antennas.”
The cell-tracking systems cost as much as $400,000. They were initially developed for military and spy agencies, and the Stingrays remain a guarded secret by law enforcement. This raises concerns because the secrecy involved really eliminates the ability for any oversight on the use and abuses of these systems.
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