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ACLU of Florida says police department used cellphone tracking device 200 times without warrants

Posted Mar 3, 2014 2:55 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Police in Tallahassee, Fla., have used a so-called stingray device 200 times to track suspects through their cellphones—not only without getting warrants but without telling the suspects or the courts adjudicating the cases about the electronic surveillance.

So, citing a First District Court of Appeal opinion (PDF) last year that documents this cellphone tracking, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida filed a motion (PDF) last week seeking more information about sealed evidence in that case.

In addition to the issue posed by obtaining evidence without warrants, stingrays, also known as “cell site simulators,” are constitutionally problematic because they act like cellphone towers: They gather information about locations and call activity of all cellphones in their area, not just a suspect's, according to a post at the ACLU's Blog of Rights.

The ACLU of Florida has filed Freedom of Information Act requests with 30 police and sheriff departments in the state to try to determine how commonly the technology is used and whether its use has been disclosed in court cases, Wired's Threat Level blog notes.

Hat tip: Ars Technica's Law & Disorder blog.

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