2. Mobile Signal Tracking — Cell Site Simulator

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Some states, such as California , already require a warrant, except in emergency situations. Harris Corporation is the most prevalent company providing cell-site simulators to law enforcement. Their Stingray product has become the catchphrase for these devices, but they have subsequently introduced other models, such as Hailstorm, ArrowHead , AmberJack, and KingFish. The Intercept published a secret, internal U. Cell-site simulators invade the privacy of everyone who happens to be in a given area, regardless of the fact that the vast majority have not been accused of committing a crime.

The use of cell-site simulators have been shrouded in government secrecy. For a while, police departments tried to keep the use of cell-site simulators secret from not just the public but also the court system, withholding information from defense attorneys and judges—likely due to non-disclosure agreements with Harris Corporation. Prosecutors have accepted plea deals to hide their use of cell-site simulators and have even dropped cases rather than revealing information about their use of the technology.

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Marshalls have driven files hundreds of miles to thwart public records requests. Louis, Missouri. In light of this secrecy, the FBI told police officers to recreate evidence from the devices, according to a document obtained by the nonprofit investigative journalism outlet Oklahoma Watch. Cell-site simulators have been shown to disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color.

Cell-site simulators rely on a vulnerability in our communications system that the government should help fix rather than exploit. For the reasons above, EFF opposes police use of cell site simulators. Insofar as law enforcement agencies are using cell-site simulators in criminal investigations, EFF argues that use should be limited in the following ways:. We filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to expose and shine light on the U. Along with the ACLU and ACLU of Maryland, we filed an amicus brief in the first case in the country where a judge threw out evidence obtained as a result of using a cell-site simulator without a warrant.

We filed an amicus brief, along with the ACLU, pointing a court to facts indicating that the Milwaukee Police Department secretly used a cell-site simulator to locate a defendant through his cell phone without a warrant in U. Damian Patrick.

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The government then admitted to having used it. This bill requires California police to get a warrant before using a cell-site simulator.


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Any evidence obtained from a cell-site simulator without a warrant is inadmissible in court. EFF supported S. We are in the process of collecting these policies. We are currently doing further research on the technical aspects of cell-site simulators.

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State of Maryland v. Kerron Andrews. Our work in this area includes public records requests , friend-of-the-court briefs , and legislative advocacy. Know your rights. For almost years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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