The StingRay Spy Device Is Exactly Why The 4th Amendment Was Written

Authored by Olivia Donaldson via The Foundation for Economic Education,

Imagine you are in the middle of your typical day-to-day activities. Maybe you are driving, spending time with family, or working. If you are like most people, your phone is at your side on a daily basis. Little do you know that, at any time, police and law enforcement could be looking at information stored on your phone.

You haven't done anything wrong. You haven't been asked for permission. You aren't suspected of any crime.

The StingRay

Police have the power to collect your location along with the numbers of your incoming and outgoing calls and intercept the content of call and text communication. They can do all of this without you ever knowing about it.

How? They use a shoebox-sized device called a StingRay. This device (also called an IMSI catcher) mimics cell phone towers, prompting all the phones in the area to connect to it even if the phones aren't in use.

The police use StingRays to track down and implicate perpetrators of mainly domestic crimes. The devices can be mounted in vehicles, drones, helicopters, and airplanes, allowing police to gain highly specific information on the location of any particular phone, down to a particular apartment complex or hotel room.

Quietly, StingRay use is growing throughout local and federal law enforcement with little to no oversight. The ACLU has discovered that at least 68 agencies in 23 different states own StingRays, but says that this "dramatically underrepresents the actual use of StingRays by law enforcement agencies nationwide."

The Violation

Information from potentially thousands of phones is being collected every time a StingRay is used. Signals are sent into the homes, bags, and pockets of innocent individuals. The Electronic Frontier Foundation likens this to the Pre-Revolutionary War practice of soldiers going door-to-door, searching without suspicion.

Richard Tynan, a technologist with Privacy International notes that, “there really isn’t any place for innocent people to hide from a device such as this.”

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution states that, “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The StingRay clearly violates these standards. The drafters of the Constitution recognized that restricting the government from violating privacy is essential for a free society. That's why the Fourth Amendment exists. The StingRay is creating a dangerous precedent that tells the government that it's okay for them to violate our rights. Because of this, freedom is quietly slipping out the window.

Little Regulation

Law Enforcement is using StingRays without a warrant in most cases. For example, the San Bernardino Police Department used their StingRay 300 times without a warrant in a little over a year.

In 2010, the Tallahassee Police Department used a StingRay in a warrantless search to track down the suspect of a crime. A testimony from an unsealed hearing transcript talks about how police went about finding their target. The ACLU sums it up well:

"Police drove through the area using the vehicle-based device until they found the apartment complex in which the target phone was located, and then they walked around with the handheld device and stood ‘at every door and every window in that complex’ until they figured out which apartment the phone was located in. In other words, police were lurking outside people’s windows and sending powerful electronic signals into their private homes in order to collect information from within."

A handful of states have passed laws requiring police and federal agents to get a warrant before using a StingRay. They must show probable cause for one of the thousands of phones that they are actually searching. This is far from enough.

Additionally, there are many concerns that agents are withholding information from federal judges to monitor subjects without approval - bypassing the probable cause standard laid out in the Constitution. They even go as far as to let criminals go to avoid disclosing information about these devices to the courts.

If the public doesn’t become aware of this issue, the police will continue to use StingRays to infringe on our rights in secret and with impunity.


WarPony silverserfer Wed, 11/29/2017 - 18:00 Permalink

Your computer camera and microphone, your car's OnStar - along with your phone - and likely your Smart TV can all have their mics and cameras hacked to eavesdrop at any time.  Throw in CC cameras and it is difficult to get off of their grid. In W. Houston, we have an airplane that circles for hours with it's high res camera.  Around the same time, I asked the undercover girl in the van why she was parking all around our culdesac corners.  She assured me it had nothing to do with op Jade Helm.

In reply to by silverserfer

Nolde Huruska overbet Wed, 11/29/2017 - 16:54 Permalink

Not only violating the Constitution but using a Stingray commits at least three blatant violations of the Communication Act of 1934. That is why they will let people walk scot free out of court rather than reveal how it works. For someone with a very good knowledge of radio it may be possible to build a simple device that indicates when a Stingray is in use, maybe even a phone app. VC are so scared shit of .gov that they won't even talk about it. Here's something else to consider; everytime a Stingray is fired up the phone company NOC's see it. By not reporting it to the FCC they are aiding and abetting.

In reply to by overbet

Embrey Malleus Maleficarum Wed, 11/29/2017 - 19:42 Permalink

San Antonio resident here. We have many military bases, DARPA, etc
Anyway, I was speaking with a soldier in military intelligence last year (at the auto parts store) and he really seemed awake and aware. So much so that I asked him what he and his cohorts would do if the government declared Marshall Law in San Antonio, called the military in to keep order and he knew the citizenry felt the tyranny rose to the degree that they felt compelled to take up arms in their own defense.

He said, 'We'd smoke their (the citizens') ass'.

In reply to by Malleus Maleficarum

Chupacabra-322 MonetaryApostate Wed, 11/29/2017 - 16:13 Permalink

The Criminal Fraud UNITED STATES, CORP. INC. sets a precedent to all other Corp. government agencies (like local police) that it's ok to flout the "law."

When the top dog tells the public "fu#k off, we'll do what we like and not hold anyone accountable", all the smaller dogs follow suit.

So, when you see local police abusing the public and no one doing anything about it, you're seeing the smaller dogs following the Criminal "UNITED STATES, CORP. INC".

I the future, Parallel Construction will be the Police Surveillance State modern version of "Night of the Long Knives."

In reply to by MonetaryApostate

ReturnOfDaMac Wed, 11/29/2017 - 15:22 Permalink

But, but, but, if you haven't done anything wrong, whats the problem with goobermint looking in    /s     <--- have to use /s because some here are so sheeped down and stupid they will actually agree, sad.

Whatta Wed, 11/29/2017 - 15:22 Permalink

"But if you've done nothing wrong what do you have to worry about"Hear that way too much. Shove these illegal search Nazis back into their hole.

Anonymous IX Pigeon Wed, 11/29/2017 - 16:18 Permalink

Exactly.  Notice how "issues" today are "framed" in a total black or white/yin or yang/positive or negative fashion to sell whatever idea or process needs to be sold.  Stingrays are "good" because the police can catch "obvious criminals."  BUT the technology can be used at any time against anyone by those in power to suppress or corral people who believe in the color blue, happy children, clean water, good schools, etc., etc.  The person or people in power determine who will be targeted with this type of technology.  Perhaps this idea doesn't concern you.  However, I now observe those people so cozy and happy under the Obama adminstration suffer like hell under Trump; they utterly detest him.  Regimes change.  Presidents and ideologies fluctuate.  The U.S. founders wanted to establish a framework in which citizens would be subjected as little as possible to the vagaries of human desire and emotion called the U.S. Constitution.    

In reply to by Pigeon

Consuelo Whatta Wed, 11/29/2017 - 15:44 Permalink

  I will never forget what a Zio-bag 'conservative' POS radio talk host here in the Bay Area said repeatedly on his program following the September 11th demolitions, when speaking of the then-recently rammed-through 'Patriot Act' legislation: 'If you have done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide'...   He stood by it and there were hordes of callers which agreed with him.Not very many people actually have a love for freedom, odd as it may seem.   Most wish to be led around and told what to do and how to live.   After all, it's easier that way...  

In reply to by Whatta

Sudden Debt Wed, 11/29/2017 - 15:22 Permalink

POOF!  Americans have no clue they're already living in a fascist state.First they gain power and then supression starts.And phase 2 will be clear once the markets implode and the dollar goes poof.

GreatUncle BritBob Wed, 11/29/2017 - 15:36 Permalink

Have alot of fear ... now if I can get me one of them devices looks kewl.Then I use it on every MOFO in the neighborhood.I ow know who is fucking who! Straight or otherwise and imagine the blackmails you could do.You could even sell high ranking ones like police, judges etc improprietary to the drug runners, they would pay you a fortune to have a judge in the back pocket.A levelling device for sure ... WHERE CAN I BUY ONE!

In reply to by BritBob

CompassionateC… Wed, 11/29/2017 - 15:26 Permalink

As a true Ronald "gun grabbin', amnesty grantin'" Reagan style of conservative, I am a staunch believer in the idea that the government always comes second (Israel and Jewish interests are first) and that the so called rights of white American goyim don't even register.  The court needs to strike the 4th amendment down as unconstitutional.  Look, gay marriage is in the constitution but the rights to own guns and be free from total surveillance is not.  It's 2017/The Current Year for fuck's sake!