FBI Says It Doesn’t Need Warrant To Spy On Cell Phones In Public
By D.B. Hirsch
January 5, 2015 11:00 pm - NewsBehavingBadly.com
You can’t have a presumption of privacy from the government when talking on a cell phone.
[su_thin_right_skyscraper_ad]The FBI won’t bother to obtain search warrants before it uses interception devices on people in public, according to a letter written by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and staffer Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). These devices include Stingrays, the cell-tower decoy interception devices used to scoop up data from devices around it. The FBI puts Stingrays and similar devices known as dirtboxes in cars and small airplanes as a way to quickly dragnet data from a large number of devices while it is hunting for a device that belongs to a suspect.
Stingrays, dirtboxes, and other surveillance tools help law enforcement catch criminals. That’s true. To do so, the decoys grab information from lots of innocent people by tricking their phones into sending data to the FBI before they can pinpoint a suspect. This is a substantial and wide-ranging intrusion, which is why the policy to forgo warrants is raising concerns.
Leahy and Grassley learned about this “What, me warrant?!” policy at private briefings…
…exceptions include using the spying tools on people in public, meaning the FBI doesn’t have to get a warrant to use them on anyone using their phone hanging out in a local park, walking their dog on the street, or doing anything else without the expectation of privacy they’d have at home.