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Tallahassee cops tracking cell phones without warrants ACLU protests



Thousands of lawmakers, lobbyists, reporters and citizens are gathered in Tallahassee for the annual 60-day legislative session. Warning - you might want to turn off your cell phones.

Apparently, the Tallahassee Police Department has used a device called "stingray" that allows it to secretly track cell phones and "reveal their precise locations and information about all of the calls and text messages they send and receive," according to the ACLU.

There is an ongoing court case about Tallahassee cops using this technology that has been largely kept secret.

According to the ACLU:

 It appears that at least one police department in Florida has failed to tell judges about its use of a cell phone tracking device because the department got the device on loan and promised the manufacturer to keep it all under wraps. But when police use invasive surveillance equipment to surreptitiously sweep up information about the locations and communications of large numbers of people, court oversight and public debate are essential.

The devices, likely made by the Florida-based Harris Corporation, are called “stingrays,” and unfortunately this is not the first time the government has tried to hide their use.

Tallahassee police have secretly used this technology more than 200 times, according to ACLU.

A Wired story described it this way:

The shocking revelation came during an appeal over a 2008 sexual battery case in Tallahassee in which the suspect also stole the victim’s cellphone. Using the stingray — which simulates a cellphone tower in order to trick nearby mobile devices into connecting to it and revealing their location — police were able to track him to an apartment.

During recent proceedings in the case, authorities revealed that they had used the equipment at least 200 additional times since 2010 without disclosing this to courts and obtaining a warrant.

The ACLU nails it here:

Potentially unconstitutional government surveillance on this scale should not remain hidden from the public just because a private corporation desires secrecy. And it certainly should not be concealed from judges.

Unfortunately, it is appears that this technology is being used by other law enforcement agencies in Florida and elsewhere.

Read more from ACLU here.

Wonder if the Legislature cares.



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