Feds Admit Warrantless Cellphone Tracking ‘Very Common’

Joshua Pundit

Right to privacy? Don’t bet on it.

According to a Washington Times report, the FBI has admitted that it made extensive use for the last five years of a cell phone tracking program that can pinpoint callers’ locations and record their conversations — all without a warrant.

The program, called ‘Stingray’ was revealed at a hearing today in a federal court in Arizona by Justice Department attorneys in the case of U.S. vs. Rigmaiden.The 2008 case involves a man charged with identity theft. His attorneys are seeking to quash evidence obtained by Stingray, using the argument that using Stingray constitutes a search and would require an actual warrant.  

Stingray works by mimicking a cell phone tower, so that it can easily zoom in on a cell phone’s location and pick up and record conversations as well as data. The apparatus can easily fit in an unmarked van.

The Justice Department lawyers told the court that instead of going through a process like getting a warrant and convincing a judge there’s probable cause, Stingray operates under the authority of “pen register” orders. These court orders are usually issued to allow the collection of what’s known as “metadata” — recording all phone numbers calling to or called from a particular number, for instance. Stingray, of course, collects a lot more than that.

Not only does it record calls and collect data from the targeted phone, but from all other phones within range.There also is apparently fairly lax oversight in how the FBI or other agencies uses it.


7 thoughts on “Feds Admit Warrantless Cellphone Tracking ‘Very Common’

  1. All they’re admitting to is a tiny fraction of the actual scope of this spy

    Like saying a woman is just a little bit pregnant.

    1. Hey #1, isn’t it swell that you can never be lost in a blizzard when you have your personal GPS tracking device with you.

        1. I go out in blizzards, I never get lost, and all I ever need is a magnetic compass.

          I think that soon after everyone becomes dependent upon GPS to find their way home, there will be a monthly bill for the service, and it will be difficult to find a compass in any store, just as slide-rules disappeared when the pocket calculator was invented.

      1. No blizzards here in L.A., Millard, so far.

        Of course, with what they’re doing with HAARP these days, who knows?

  2. As soon as you discover they have a new angle for spying on us, you should assume they’re taking advantage of it on a wholesale basis, and as widely as they’re able to.

    Electronic monitoring of any type saves them a lot of leg-work, and vastly increases the number of people they’re able to spy on. They’re going to cash-in on that as much as they can get away with it. You should avoid all electronic communication whenever it’s possible to do so.

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