California police departments capture cellphone data [World Socialist Website]

By Gabriel Black
27 March 2014

This March, a San Francisco Bay Area news station uncovered widespread use of “StingRay” devices by Californian police agencies. Their increasing adoption, with no oversight, is further evidence of the spread of police state infrastructure that has and will be used for political repression.

The devices, which indiscriminately collect cellphone communications, are used by at least seven major police departments in California. The devices are also used by federal agencies, such as the FBI, and at least 25 local US law enforcement agencies outside of California.

Local ABC News 10 filed requests with every major San Francisco Bay Area police station, asking them if they were using StingRays. Their request was largely met with silence. The station writes that “none would discuss how StingRays work, or even admit they have them.” The records they did obtain, primarily from the San Jose Police Department, showed that at least seven Californian law enforcement agencies use these devices and two more have recently received grant money to purchase them.

StingRays are essentially fake cellphone towers. Masquerading as a tower, they collect, and can even control, nearby cellphone traffic. Aspects of the device, however, are wholly unknown to the public. Using strict non-disclosure agreements, Harris Corporation, the company that manufactures StingRays, and the government have tried to keep the technology secret.

From what is known, the devices are chiefly used to pinpoint a cellphone’s location. This tracking function is so accurate that it can track a cellphone’s location within two meters. As long as the cellphone is on, police can see exactly where a target is.

Certain versions of the device allow police total access to any data transferred between the cellphone and the fake receptor. This allows police to listen to all phone calls, out-going and incoming, with virtually no threat of being detected. Police are able to access a user’s SMS-text messages. They also receive all metadata for these communications…

Excerpted; full article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/03/27/stin-m27.html

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