US police are using the “StingRay” machine to spy on you

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If you live in the US (or anywhere else for that matter), your mobile phones could be under surveillance by the authorities by using a machine called a StingRay, which tracks phone calls and texts.

US Police use a mobile spying machine called StingRay

A recent report in the New York Times reveals that any law enforcement agencies in the US that use the device need to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which prevents them from going into detail about its functionality and technical specifications. In 2011, the FBI also admitted that the device can track all wireless communications, and that “innocent, non-target devices may be incidentally recorded”.

The StingRay is a small device that listens in on phone signals by pretending to be a cell broadcast tower. This means that it can track everything in the vicinity, rather than targeting specific mobiles, and it’s capable of capturing all communications between devices including texts, calls and emails.

StingRay Mobile Surveillance Machine

Privacy law expert Orin S. Kerr, told the New York Times that the secrecy around the device was suspicious:

“It might be a totally legitimate business interest, or maybe they’re trying to keep people from realising there are bigger privacy problems. What’s the secret that they’re trying to hide?”

The FBI has justified StingRay’s secrecy and use by saying that it prevents criminals from “thwarting the use of this technology”.

But the mystery and questions around StingRay are ongoing. They have had an effect on convictions though, as in February in the US a man accused of armed robbery thanks to StingRay had his sentence reduced to a petty theft charge after the police and prosecutors failed to show the machine and answer questions about it.

It looks like security is encroaching on privacy again in ways that are being kept hidden and secret from the public. Do you want to sacrifice some privacy for safety? Or is privacy more important?

SOURCE: New York Times

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1 Comment

  1. Tony Baker on

    OK, cue the ” ‘doesn’t matter unless you have something to hide…” idiots.