The Hill: Report on warrantless surveillance shows Congress must update privacy laws by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX):
Imagine living in a country where individual privacy is not protected. Where local police officers can read your text messages without a warrant. Where state and federal officers can trick your cell phone into thinking it’s connecting to a cell tower when it’s really connecting to a device that gives big brother your location and the telephone numbers you’re calling. Where none of your cell phone use is private and some officers don’t need probable cause to track you.
Because of an outdated law, and devices known as “Stingrays,” this is not fiction – it’s America today.
According to a report released Monday, the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department have spent more than $95 million to secretly track cellphones. There are more than 400 Stingray devices being used by local, state and federal agencies. These devices can be so small, they fit in a backpack.
Unlike most federal agencies, state and local law enforcement are not getting a warrant to conduct this search of your cell phone. Local law enforcement agencies, like the New York Police Department, are using and operating these devices without requiring officers to obtain a warrant supported by probable cause prior to using them. In some cases, the government can even capture call history, intercept conversations and store text messages.