Saturday, January 13, 2018

Corning Ithaca Defense lawyer: How can the Police get your Cell Phone Info? It's called a STINGRAY

Image of a Stingray Device
It's called a "STINGRAY"

What is a STINGRAY?

"Stingray" has now become legal slang for any device that is capable of simulating a cell phone tower and getting your information directly.   There are many different models with all kinds of different software being employed across the United States today by the federal government and local police.  

The scary thing about a STINGRAY is that is can get a tremendous amount of information about you from your phone without you knowing.   These days we are all on on phones constantly -- so it is a very powerful tool for law enforcement to invade our privacy --and they can do it whenever they feel like it.  

How does it work?

In lay terms, the STINGRAY simulates a cell tower.  It's technical terms is a "cell site simulator."  It is very portable and can be placed in a car (in passenger compartment or trunk) and is driven around by law enforcement so that the device can send "pings" to any cellular phone in its range.  These pings compel the mobile phone in range to send data back to the Stingray.  Once the Stingray is connected to a phone, it can manipulate the phone's connection to the tower/Stingray.   When the Stingray is connected to a phone, it will be able to read texts, listen to phone calls, get voicemails, and access the Global Positioning System (GPS) on the phone for it's precise location.  

These types of devices have been used in the USA for years to essentially spy on the American people for purposes of "law enforcement."   However, the law enforcement community and federal government have prevented US citizens from learning more about how these devices work and how they're employed against average Americans.  It wasn't until the past couple years when manuals and other info about this spying technology were released to the public.  Even so, these disclosures were heavily redacted.  The police continue to keep this info from the public --so sadly, we really do not know how much our Constitutional 4th Amendment rights are being violated on a daily basis...

Why Should Non-Criminals Care About this Device?

Sadly, a Stingray is an eavesdropping device that does not discriminate between criminals and the regular public.  It casts a wide net and if you are in the vicinity of the Stingray then the police will be getting your data too!  

This level of intrusion into our privacy can be used by police to scan for local crime without a warrant if they wish.  No agency is watching the police to make sure they only use it when they are authorized by a judge.  It's very "1984" for the police to be monitoring all of us --without our knowledge or consent.  Big brother is watching (and listening).

Hypothetically, a police officer could be riding around your city with a Stingray in the car --and catch a text from your phone about buying some weed.   Then, even though they had no warrant to eavesdrop on your phone, they could get your name and address from the phone number, and start staking out your house. They would watch you drive somewhere, tail you, then pull your car over for some insignificant reason (which is legal in NY) and search your car.   If they find anything, then they won't mention how you got on their radar screen at the start--and claim that it was just luck that they happened to stop you and find some illicit drugs -- but it could have originated from a device like a Stingray.  Who knows?  

This is the scary part of the technology.

For more specific information about Stingray technology, I suggest you check out this article.   

In the meantime, remember, your phone is not your own --and the government can track it (and all the data is holds) if they feel like it.  

I'll be doing a post about New York Laws and the Stingray in the coming days.




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DISCLAIMER: If you or a loved one is charged with a crime in NY, we strongly urge you to consult with a local, licensed criminal defense attorney to help lessen the possible negative outcomes of the charge--including the potential loss of your freedom. 

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