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Thu Sep 3, 2015, 08:10 PM

Feds Will Need Warrant to Use Cellphone Scanning Technology Known as 'Stingrays'

Source: ABC News

Feds Will Need Warrant to Use Cellphone Scanning Technology Known as 'Stingrays'

Sep 3, 2015, 7:36 PM ET

In a major policy shift, the Justice Department announced today that the FBI, DEA and U.S. Marshals Service will now have to obtain a warrant before using a cellphone scanning device to track down wanted criminals. Until today, those law enforcement agencies have been able to use those devices -- commonly known as Stingrays -- virtually at will.

DOJ officials confirmed today that Stingrays are widely used by federal, state and local law enforcement in criminal investigations: the U.S. Marshals Service has a fleet of planes stationed at airports around the country equipped with Stingrays to hunt for federal fugitives. The FBI says it has used the technology in high-profile kidnapping cases, and the DEA often employs it to run down drug dealers. Baltimore police have acknowledged using Stingray technology on more than 4,000 cases since 2007.

The Stingray technology can locate a specific suspect by scanning thousands of phones to pinpoint the suspect’s phone signal. But the cellphones and locations of thousands of innocent people can be ‘pinged’ by a Stingray while it is searching for a suspect’s phone in the sea of digital signals. Some privacy advocates have raised concerns, and charge that the technology violates the rights of cellphone users whose location is swept up in the search for a criminal.

Federal and local law enforcement officials traditionally have been reluctant to talk about how the technology works, and when and how they employ it. Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates said today law enforcement officials have not wanted to disclose much about Stingrays, because they didn’t want to “give the bad guys a road map on how to defeat it.”

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Read more: http://abcnews.go.com/US/feds-warrant-cellphone-scanning-technology-stingrays/story?id=33522046

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