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New e-mails reveal Feds not “forthright” about fake cell tower devices

Cyrus Farivar
Arstechnica [1]
March 28, 2013

According to new Justice Department e-mails obtained [2] by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California, and published on Wednesday, federal investigators have been routinely using “stingrays” [3] to catch bad guys. A stingray [4] is a device that can create a false cellphone tower, and allows authorities to determine a particular mobile phone’s precise location. Stingrays aren’t new—law enforcement agencies nationwide are believed to have been using them for years.

But one e-mail in the new trove reveals something brand-new: that the Feds were not fully clear about the fact that they were specifically using stingrays [5] (also known as “IMSI catchers [6]”) when asking for permission to conduct electronic surveillance from federal magistrate judges.

A press representative from the United States Department of Justice did not respond to Ars’ request for comment.

Groups like the ACLU are concerned that unsupervised use of such technology can inadvertently collect information of people who are not suspected of any crime, nor under investigation.

Full story here. [1]