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The FCC wants to protects civilians from “Stingray” devices

Devices known as Stingrays, which can secretly track and record phone users by mimicking cell phone towers, have been a hot topic in law enforcement and civil liberties circles for some time. Now, the FCC is set to take a closer look at who is using them. In a letter reported Monday by the Washington Post, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler stated that the agency would create a task force to examine the threats posed by Stingrays, which is the trade name for a technology known as “ISMI catchers.”

The Federal Communications Commission has established a task force to study reported misuse of surveillance technology that can intercept cellular signals to locate people, monitor their calls and send malicious software to their phones. The powerful technology — called an IMSI catcher, though also referred to by the trade name “Stingray” — is produced by several major surveillance companies and widely used by police and intelligence services around the world. The FCC, in response to questions from U.S. Rep. Alan M. Grayson (D-Fla.), plans to study the extent to which criminal gangs and foreign intelligence services are using the devices against Americans. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, in a letter dated this month, said the commission had authority over the surveillance technology and had established a “task force to combat the illicit and unauthorized use of IMSI catchers.” The task forces’s mission, Wheeler wrote, “is to develop concrete solutions to protect the cellular network systemically from similar unlawful intrusions and interceptions.”

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