Police Surveillance Technology Debated, Legislative Action Considered

Police surveillance technologies, including stingrays and aerial surveillance, were debated in a House Judiciary Committee hearing this week. Whether there is a need for state law to govern the use and oversight of these technologies was one of the issues discussed by lawmakers and stakeholders.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

Local prosecutors and police officials defended both the statewide use of cellphone tracking devices known as stingrays and the use in Baltimore of aerial surveillance, describing them as critical tools in their fight against crime.

Public defenders, attorneys with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and several academics argued that those and other police surveillance tools adopted in the last year lack appropriate oversight and violate constitutionally-protected privacy rights — particularly when they sweep up law-abiding citizens’ information alongside that of suspected criminals.

The debate on Tuesday came during an afternoon hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, which last year had considered — but did not pass — legislation to increase oversight of stingray technology and restrict its uses.

Since that time, Maryland’s appellate court has ruled that a probable cause warrant is required whenever police use stingray technology. The high court issued another ruling on Tuesday, just hours before the hearing, affirming that position.

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun

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