Police Using ‘StingRay’ Tech To Secretly Track Cell Phones, Solve Crimes

Last summer, we learned about a super-invasive piece of hardware called "StingRay" which law enforcement can put to use to keep an eye on cellular communications in a given area. Since then, those who make use of StingRay have wanted nothing more than for us to forget about it, and in some cases have tried to deny its existence or use. Thankfully, we're smarter than that.

To recap, StingRay is a suitcase-sized device that law enforcement can pack into surveillance vehicles. These vehicles would be able to communicate with real cellular towers in the area, and in effect act as a proxy. Even if you're not actively using your phone, your signal could potentially pass through a StingRay before it reaches a tower. Data that could be fetched by StingRay includes identification and phone numbers, phone numbers dialed, and naturally, the exact location of a smartphone.


To say that such a device could result in an invasion of privacy would be a gross understatement. As with most things done for our "protection", StingRay allows law enforcement eavesdrop on anyone -- whether they're doing anything illegal or not.

Not surprisingly, the StingRay devices out in the wild have been put to good use, and I suppose that's to be expected since it'd be otherwise difficult to warrant their $400,000 price tag.

USA Today reports that a StingRay device has been heavily used in Baltimore and has resulted in a slew of arrests. Cases include the catching of someone who smashed the back window of a parked car, a woman who made harassing phone calls, as well as a car thief. Making this interesting is the fact that StingRay isn't being used for the "terrorism investigations" that's been promised. Instead, it's being used for routine crimes.

A tool like AIMSICD could help you detect StingRay use

Yet again, we have a battle between what's right and wrong. On one hand, it's good that those who commit crimes are getting caught, but on the other, the way in which they're caught is incredibly disturbing. If Edward Snowden has taught us anything, it's that the government will say whatever it has to to warrant the use of its tools, and at the same time, it's probably capturing a lot more than it tells us it does.

It makes installing an IMSI catcher tempting, doesn't it?