(Did you really think this was going to be about a protected species along the seashore and that I’d gone all tree-huggy??)
In this week’s article, I am referring to the FBI’s new dance in getting around the now oft-litigated prohibitions against 4th Amendment warrantless searches vis-a-vis cell phones. Their latest gig is called the “stingray”.
Obviously tracking cars is a strict no-no without a warrant for law enforcement professionals, but what about cell phone data? As it turns out the law is a bit murkier on how that applies when it comes to cell phone data and “stingrays,” as Ramsay C. McCullough notes in a post for The Corporate Compliance & White Collar Advisor:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is taking the position that search warrants or other court orders are not required when deploying cell-site simulators, known as “stingrays,” in public places which imitate cell phone towers and capture the locations, identities, calls and texts of mobile phone users. With the pervasive use of smart phones in business today and with those phones containing confidential personal and business information, this may present real concerns for employers.
McCullough continues by saying that nine states have passed laws banning practices by law enforcement.
The problem is, no one can get to the bottom of exactly how these things should be regulated or even how they’re working, since the FBI has multiple non-disclosure agreements with local law enforcement in regards to stingrays. It’s gotten so bad that prosecutors are dropping cases rather than disclose the details of the stingray operations. And despite how shadowy this whole thing may seem, these devices are largely unrestricted in the United States.
For a country making a big push behind the internet of things, we are shockingly unprepared for how this will change the scope of privacy in the state. Let’s make sure that with all of this great responsibility in being a technology leader, we don’t forget such little things as oh say, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and related court decisions.
BNI Operatives: Situationally aware.
As always, stay safe.