FBI says police can disclose Stingray use, however not what they will do
Look, none of us ought to be stunned that police departments throughout the nation use issues like Stingrays — refined surveillance units that suck up cellular phone communications — of their investigations. Nonetheless, various of these PDs have insisted in courtroom on making an attempt to maintain that specialised gear out of the limelight. Contemplate instances like this one in Baltimore final yr, the place a police officer was almost held in contempt for withholding details about cellphone monitoring practices; they typically hinge on the truth that regulation enforcement officers entered into non-disclosure agreements with the FBI to maintain utilization underneath wraps. Seems, that is not precisely the complete story. In line with a press release launched by the FBI earlier this morning (and obtained in full by Ars Technica), there actually are not any authorized stipulations meant to maintain regulation enforcement from admitting stingrays have been used.
“Defendants,” the assertion goes on, “have a authorized proper to problem using digital surveillance units, and never disclosing their use might inappropriately and adversely have an effect on a defendant’s proper to problem using the gear.” As an alternative, what these NDAs are supposed to do is maintain individuals from disclosing the “particular capabilities” of Stingrays (and associated surveillance gear with totally different, much less-catchy model names). Naturally, the Bureau takes this half fairly significantly. A lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union towards the Erie County Sheriff’s Workplace final yr revealed the FBI even reserved the fitting to ask native PDs to drop instances completely if the sanctity of the Stingray’s capabilities or particulars on how they have been utilized in investigations fell into peril. Factor is, even that is a moot level now: The press corps has accomplished a positive job of unearthing these capabilities and sharing them with the general public at giant anyway.
Whereas right now’s launch provides us just a bit extra perception on the curious relationship between the Feds and native regulation enforcement the place surveillance is worried, do not assume the transfer will usher in a golden age of transparency. In any case, Florida-based mostly Harris Company — also referred to as the individuals who make and market the Stingray — is recognized to dealer non-disclosure agreements with regulation enforcement businesses themselves, barring them from “discussing, publishing, releasing or disclosing” any info associated to its surveillance merchandise.
Supply: Ars Technica
Supply: Ars Technica