Feds And ACLU Battle Over Alleged Cover-Up Of Police Illegal Use Of Cellphone Snooping Technology
Q. Alright. And what exactly did you do to narrow it down, once you got to the apartment complex?Why The Government Is Fighting To Keep This Information Secret
A. Again, using portable equipment, quite literally stood in front of every door and window measuring, determining that direction of where the signal was emanating from and contacting investigators, and advised them that we had an apartment.
What the court transcript reveals is that the Tallahassee police can track any cell phone that's powered up, that it's used this capability more than 200x since 2007, and that the accuracy and success rate of the hardware is (according to the recollection of an officer that's worked in the department since 1995) 100%. It tracks a phone even if the phone isn't making or receiving calls, and police can essentially go door-to-door to achieve a lock on the target apartment.
Nobody likes giving up the details of such a highly effective program -- and that's why in Sarasota, the federal government is fighting back. According to the ACLU, it received information indicating that in Sarasota, the authorizations for collecting information via stingray were based on so-called "trap and trace," orders, which typically only capture phone call metadata -- not the entire activity of a cell phone (and potentially every other cell phone in the region). Before the ACLU could meet with the Sarasota Police Department and investigate the files in question, the US Marshals deputized a Sarasota officer and therefore declared the entire records of the affair sealed. Needless to say, the ACLU will be appealing that decision.