from the the-surveillance-that-never-sleeps dept.
According to the NYCLU's report, the NYPD has used IMSI catchers (essentially mobile cell towers powerful enough to induce all nearby cellular devices to connect to them, rather than commercial cell towers) more than 1,000 times in the past seven years.
From the El Reg article:
According to the NYCLU report, between 2008 and May of 2015 police used stingray hardware 1,016 times, and that permission to deploy the devices required a court order rather than a harder-to-obtain warrant.
The use of stingray devices by police has become a point of contention between law enforcement and groups who see the devices as a violation of personal privacy. Long used by the FBI, stingray devices impersonate legit cellphone towers to monitor nearby mobile phones and track their movements.
[...] "If carrying a cell phone means being exposed to military-grade surveillance equipment, then the privacy of nearly all New Yorkers is at risk," said NYCLU executive director Donna Lieberman.
"Considering the NYPD's troubling history of surveilling innocent people, it must at the very least establish strict privacy policies and obtain warrants prior to using intrusive equipment like Stingrays that can track people's cell phones."
This kind of gives a little more zing to the old saw "Welcome to New York. Now go home."
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is acknowledging for the first time that foreign actors or criminals are using eavesdropping devices to track cellphone activity in Washington, D.C., according to a letter obtained by The Hill.
DHS in a letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) last Monday said they came across unauthorized cell-site simulators in the Washington, D.C., area last year. Such devices, also known as "stingrays," can track a user's location data through their mobile phones and can intercept cellphone calls and messages.
[...] DHS official Christopher Krebs, the top official leading the NPPD, added in a separate letter accompanying his response that such use "of IMSI catchers by malicious actors to track and monitor cellular users is unlawful and threatens the security of communications, resulting in safety, economic and privacy risks."
DHS said they have not determined the users behind such eavesdropping devices, nor the type of devices being used. The agency also did not elaborate on how many devices it unearthed, nor where authorities located them.
Related: Police: Stingray Device Intercepts Mobile Phones
ACLU Reveals Greater Extent of FBI and Law Enforcement "Stingray" Use
US IRS Bought Stingray, Stingray II, and Hailstorm IMSI-Catchers
EFF Launches the Cell-Site Simulator Section of Street Level Surveillance
NYPD Making Heavy Use of Stingrays
New York Lawmakers Want Local Cops to Get Warrant Before Using Stingray
New Jersey State Police Spent $850,000 on Harris Corp. Stingray Devices