Known as a Stingray and manufactured by Harris (HRS), a Pentagon contractor based in Melbourne, Fla., the device is small enough to be carried in a car. It tricks mobile phones into thinking it’s a cell tower, drawing information, the paper said. Federal grants, including one from the Department of Homeland Security, were used to buy the equipment, according to public records the newspaper obtained.
Use of the technology is widespread across the U.S. More than 40 law enforcement agencies in 17 states have similar monitoring equipment, known as “cell site simulators” or “IMSI catchers,” says the American Civil Liberties Union. Oakland, Calif., has had a Stingray since 2007, when an annual report cited 21 electronic surveillance arrests, the group says.
The controversy in Tacoma, a city of 200,000 south of Seattle, follows President Obama’s decision in the wake of the Ferguson protests to order a review of U.S. programs that fund military equipment for local law enforcement. Attention so far has focused on rifles, night-vision devices, and additional military-style weapons carried by police in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb.
Remember this violation of your Fourth Amendment rights the next time some redneck gets all up in arms about the flag being desecrated. Fools worry about the flag, the mentally active worry about the desecration of civil liberties.