It’s getting impossible to keep track of all the new spy tools being rolled out by the police state in the name of “fighting terrorism”, aka spying on innocent American citizens unconstitutionally. I thought that I had my hands full the other day with ARGUS: The World’s Highest Resolution Video Surveillance Platform, but this “Stingray” system is already being deployed illegally in cities throughout the United States. As the EFF states: “The Stingray is the digital equivalent of the pre-revolutionary British soldier.” From the EFF:
The device, which acts as a fake cell phone tower, essentially allows the government to electronically search large areas for a particular cell phone’s signal—sucking down data on potentially thousands of innocent people along the way. At the same time, law enforcement has attempted use them while avoiding many of the traditional limitations set forth in the Constitution, like individualized warrants. This is why we called the tool “an unconstitutional, all-you-can-eat data buffet.”
Recently, LA Weekly reported the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) got a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant in 2006 to buy a stingray. The original grant request said it would be used for “regional terrorism investigations.” Instead LAPD has been using it for just about any investigation imaginable.
Of course, we’ve seen this pattern over and over and over. The government uses “terrorism” as a catalyst to gain some powerful new surveillance tool or ability, and then turns around and uses it on ordinary citizens, severely infringing on their civil liberties in the process.
Stingrays are particularly odious given they give police dangerous “general warrant” powers, which the founding fathers specifically drafted the Fourth Amendment to prevent. In pre-revolutionary America, British soldiers used “general warrants” as authority to go house-to-house in a particular neighborhood, looking for whatever they please, without specifying an individual or place to be searched.
The Stingray is the digital equivalent of the pre-revolutionary British soldier.
On March 28th, the judge overseeing the Rigmaiden case, which we wrote about previously, will hold a hearing on whether evidence obtained using a stringray should be suppressed. It will be one of the first times a judge will rules on the constitutionality of these devices in federal court.
It will be interesting to see what happens in late March. I will be watching.
Full article here.
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