Congress Sets Sights on Police Stingray Technology

Congressional lawmakers have set their sights on police stingray technology. As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

The stingray — a suitcase-size device — can sweep up basic cellphone data from a neighborhood by tricking phones into believing that it is a cell tower, enabling it to identify unique subscriber numbers. The data is then transmitted to the police, helping them determine the location of a phone without the user even making a call or sending a text message.

The article notes the technology generates some controversy and consternation among lawmakers as to whether state and local agencies should follow the same policies regarding warrants, nondisclosure agreements and privacy as federal agencies:

The Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department — which oversees the FBI — say they now require their agents to obtain a warrant based on probable cause in most cases before using the device.

But requirements for local police — who purchase the equipment independently of the federal government — are less clear. Members of Congress, who are considering legislation to address privacy concerns raised by the technology, noted that the federal policies have little bearing on city police.

“These agency policy changes … do not meaningfully restrict state and local officials,” Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat, said Wednesday at a hearing of the House Oversight subcommittee on information technology. “I hope that state and local law enforcement agencies follow the lead of these federal policies and implement stringent privacy protections and legal standards.”

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun

A session on law enforcement technology will be held at MACo’s Winter Conference on Thursday, December 10, 2015 from 9:00 am – 10:15 am. The session, “The New Blue: Tools, Technology & Transparency in Modern Policing”, will discuss innovative police technologies and programs on the horizon or in use now in jurisdictions across Maryland. To learn more about this session and our conference, themed “Mission: Public Safety,” please view the MACo Winter Conference Registration Brochure.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference:

Questions? Contact Meetings & Events Director Virginia White.