(HorizonPost.com) – A new use for an existing technology is making waves nearly a decade after it was first made known to the public. Called Stingray, the FBI used it in the early 2010s to track cell phones to break some cases, and it’s as controversial now as it was then.
The system emulates one of the most common transmission towers put in place across the country by companies like Verizon and AT&T for the convenience of their customers. In years past, it forced area phones to “ping” on it, giving law enforcement all sorts of data on devices within its range.
Now, Forbes reports that Stingray was used to track a motor vehicle using its onboard Wi-Fi system in what appears to be a first of its kind step beyond the cellular tech it used previously. The feds tracked the “black Jeep” of a Wisconsin man wanted on drugs and weapons charges using other methods permitted under an existing court-ordered warrant. That eventually led investigators to a car dealership where they found evidence he had traded the Jeep in on a Dodge Hellcat. They used Stingray to trace the car, locate it, and make an arrest.
SCOOP – The FBI are using Stingrays to locate cars.
The surveillance tech, controversial due to its ability to gather data on all devices in a vicinity, was previously used to locate smartphones.
A reminder your car is spewing out data cops can use:https://t.co/oJ6UFqaGAA
— Thomas Brewster (@iblametom) July 22, 2021
What makes this a controversial issue for some is the fact that it’s not specific to the person under investigation. Rather, it sweeps up the data from all phones/in-car suites in the operational area. Police in Erie County (Buffalo), New York, demonstrated why groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are concerned. They used the technology 47 times between 2010 and 2015 but only once sought court oversight, according to wired.com.
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