Numerous California police departments have been tapping cellphones

A number of police departments in California have been using controversial “StingRay” type of cellular interception devices for at least six years, with little or no disclosure, according to documents obtained by Sacramento’s News10. StingRays belong to a class of device made by Florida-based Harris Corporation that imitates part of the cellular infrastructure, causing nearby phones to connect to it. Some devices can even intercept calls and texts, though the documents don’t indicate police used them for this purpose.

More documents have been uncovered (via FOI requests) that show local law enforcement agencies in California have been operating cell phone tower spoofers (stingray devices) in complete secrecy and wholly unregulated. Sacramento News10 has obtained documents from agencies in San Jose, Oakland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento and Alameda County — all of which point to stingray deployment. As has been the case in the past, the devices are acquired with DHS grants and put into use without oversight or guidelines to ensure privacy protections. The stingrays in use are mainly limited to collecting data, but as the ACLU points out, many manufacturers offer devices that also capture content. 

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