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An ACLU investigation found that police in several NC cities were using spying devices that trick your cellphone into disclosing private information. But the police don’t have to have a warrant to use them.
So basically, says public defender Jennifer Harjo, no one really knows when this StingRay device is being used. When reporters asked Wilmington, NC Police Department about the device, they were told to ask the FBI who told them the secrecy was all about protecting the sensitive technology of the device.
But what about protecting the constitutional rights of NC Citizens, state senator Thom Goolsby wanted to know. He says he’s concerned about a trend where all government agencies seem to want to listen in on our phone conversations and track us - which “is not what our Constitution is all about,” he adds.
Despite all the secrecy, local news station WWAY found city council documents showing the StingRay devices were purchased from Harris Corporation in Florida.
So far, ACLU has found that four major cities in NC are using these spying devices and that several other states are using them as well.
Tell NC to end its secret StingRay spying on citizens’ cellphones!
We, the undersigned, say this covert spying on citizens must stop.
A report in Ars.Technica late last year notes that “Monitoring citizens' cellphones without their knowledge is a booming business. From Arizona to California, Florida to Texas, state and federal authorities have been quietly investing millions of dollars acquiring clandestine mobile phone surveillance equipment in the past decade.”
The StingRay is a device that gathers information by sending out a signal that tricks cellphones into connecting to the device. It’s a box-shaped tool that can be covertly set up in the back of a car or just about anywhere, from which it can target a specific location and all the phones within that location’s radius. It can access hundreds of phone identifying codes, “such as the International Mobile Subscriber Number (IMSI) and the Electronic Serial Number (ESM).”
Even worse says the report, Harris Corporation, which sells the StingRay, has been marketing a whole range of secretive surveillance tools to government agencies for years.
However, its catalogue conceals details about these devices from the public, under a cloak of national security protection. According to records, says Ars.Technica, the company has made more than $40 million from its contracts with federal, state and local agencies.
These StingRay relatives have the capability of tracking movements, intercepting conversation and can even perform “denial-of-service attacks on phones,” says the report.
We agree with NC Senator Goolsby that the use of this device on citizens without a warrant or their knowledge is clearly NOT what the US Constitution is about.
We request that North Carolina cities Stop this secret cellphone StingRay spying!
Thanks for your time.