Wired reports on new documents found through a Freedom of Information Act by the ACLU that have implications for individual privacy:
Police in Florida have, at the request of the U.S. Marshals Service, been deliberately deceiving judges and defendants about their use of a controversial surveillance tool to track suspects, according to newly obtained emails.
At the request of the Marshals Service, the officers using so-called stingrays have been routinely telling judges, in applications for warrants, that they obtained knowledge of a suspect’s location from a “confidential source” rather than disclosing that the information was gleaned using a stingray.
A series of five emails (.pdf) written in April, 2009, were obtained today by the American Civil Liberties Union showing police officials discussing the deception. The organization has filed Freedon of Information Act requests with police departments throughout Florida seeking information about their use of stingrays. […]
The U.S. Marshals Service did not respond to a call for comment.
Stingrays, also known as IMSI catchers, simulate a cellphone tower and trick any nearby mobile devices into connecting with them, thereby revealing their location. When mobile phones—and other wireless communication devices—connect to the stingray, the device can see and record their unique ID numbers and traffic data, as well as information that points to the device’s location. By moving the stingray around, authorities can triangulate the device’s location with greater precision than they can using data obtained from a fixed tower location. […]
But the emails released Thursday show police in Florida are going even further to conceal their use of the equipment when they seek probable cause warrants to search facilities where a suspect is located, deceiving the courts about where they obtained the evidence to support their application for the search. […]
The release of the emails showing interference by a state attorney and the U.S. Marshals Service comes two weeks after agents from the Marshals Service took the extraordinary measure of seizing other public documents related to stingrays from the Sarasota Police Department in order to prevent the ACLU from examining them.