lauramoy24 karma2016-08-17 18:08:04 UTC
Yes, this is a really interesting problem. We've heard that in some cases, some prosecutors, knowing that the police used a cell site simulator without proper authorization, or believing that they cannot reveal information about the CS simulator due to a non-disclosure agreement they've signed with the FBI, have engaged in a practice known as "parallel construction." In parallel construction, law enforcement and prosecutors may make misrepresentations about how they arrived at certain evidence or certain conclusions, such as by claiming that they received facts from a confidential informant.
The primary repercussions are losses in criminal cases, or the overturning of cases that have been successfully prosecuted. When it turns out that law enforcement obtained evidence improperly, or made misrepresentations regarding that evidence, cases get overturned.
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lauramoy11 karma2016-08-17 18:17:28 UTC
Also adding to this one. There's a helpful description in this document from the Department of Justice: https://www.justice.gov/opa/file/767321/download
The type in use by Baltimore City Police Department is called the "HailStorm," which is a newer generation device than the StingRay, designed to function on newer LTE networks. More about the HailStorm specifically here: https://insidersurveillance.com/deciphering-harris-hailstorm-imsi-catcher-lte/
lauramoy11 karma2016-08-17 18:22:40 UTC
Yes. This is an extremely far-reaching problem. BPD appears to be among the worst (or perhaps the very worst) state or local police department in terms of how heavily they rely on these things (with no transparency/accountability to the public they are pledged to serve), and in terms of how clear it is that they conduct themselves in a way that is racially biased against African Americans.
But many other law enforcement agencies around the country also have and use the devices. And we don't know what we don't know—there could be far more than we have public information about.
ACLU has a helpful interactive map of LE agencies known to have cell site simulators: https://www.aclu.org/map/stingray-tracking-devices-whos-got-them
lauramoy11 karma2016-08-17 18:12:51 UTC
Yes. Use of CS simulators without a license constitutes a pretty clear violation of the Communications Act, as we lay out in the complaint. The FCC has had a task force for the last two years to address illicit use of these devices, and the Chairman has pledged to Congress to do something about the issue.
So we're not sure exactly how the FCC will respond, but we are confident they will indeed take a hard look at the complaint and, because the law is pretty clear here, they will have to do something.
lauramoy6 karma2016-08-17 19:02:57 UTC
I mean, I do love The Wire...
Interestingly, I was actually working at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office as a cell site analyst when The Wire aired. And it was at that time (and possibly still is) the best TV portrayal of law enforcement that I felt I had seen.
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