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FBI Documents Shine Light on Clandestine Cellphone Tracking Tool
slate.com ^ | Jan. 10, 2013 | Ryan Gallagher

Posted on 01/20/2013 2:35:53 AM PST by Las Vegas Dave

The FBI calls it a “sensitive investigative technique” that it wants to keep secret. But newly released documents that shed light on the bureau’s use of a controversial cellphone tracking technology called the “Stingray” have prompted fresh questions over the legality of the spy tool. Functioning as a so-called “cell-site simulator,” the Stingray is a sophisticated portable surveillance device. The equipment is designed to send out a powerful signal that covertly dupes phones within a specific area into hopping onto a fake network. The feds say they use them to target specific groups or individuals and help track the movements of suspects in real time, not to intercept communications. But by design Stingrays, sometimes called “IMSI catchers,” collaterally gather data from innocent bystanders’ phones and can interrupt phone users’ service—which critics say violates a federal communications law. The FBI has maintained that its legal footing here is firm. Now, though, internal documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a civil liberties group, reveal the bureau appears well aware its use of the snooping gear is in dubious territory. Two heavily redacted sets of files released last month show internal Justice Department guidance that relates to the use of the cell tracking equipment, with repeated references to a crucial section of the Communications Act which outlines how “interference” with communication signals is prohibited. It’s a small but significant detail. Why? Because it demonstrates that “there are clearly concerns, even within the agency, that the use of Stingray technology might be inconsistent with current regulations,” says EPIC attorney Alan Butler. “I don't know how the DOJ justifies the use of Stingrays given the limitations of the Communications Act prohibition.”

(Excerpt) Read more at slate.com ...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Government
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 01/20/2013 2:35:57 AM PST by Las Vegas Dave
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To: All

Does the FBI’s “sensitive investigative technique” also apply to obamaphones??


2 posted on 01/20/2013 2:38:35 AM PST by Las Vegas Dave
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To: Las Vegas Dave

0bummerPhones are *sacrosanct*; nothing legal or moral applies to them, as long as you are one of the “chosen” who are granted one.


3 posted on 01/20/2013 3:08:08 AM PST by carriage_hill (AR-10s/15s are the 21st Century's Muskets. Self-Defense is The First Human Right.)
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To: Las Vegas Dave

They justify it because Eric Holder runs the joint


4 posted on 01/20/2013 3:53:29 AM PST by ballplayer
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To: Las Vegas Dave

Todays FBI is as corrupt as our elections are.

What are Republicans doing in regions that voted 140% for Obama? What is Romney doing about helpin to stop election fraud? Nothing.


5 posted on 01/20/2013 3:54:46 AM PST by Venturer
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To: Las Vegas Dave


6 posted on 01/20/2013 4:00:49 AM PST by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet - Mater tua caligas exercitus gerit ;-{)
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To: Las Vegas Dave

There are two types of cell phone signal boosters you can buy for the home. One type uses an external antenna to bring in a clear signal and let you connect using a second small antenna mounted inside...it’s a simple booster.

The second type connects to the cell system using your internet connection and in effect creates a small cell site inside your home that has a small antenna that your phones connect to.

The second type could be firmware hacked to create this FBI “Stingray” device. In fact this may be what they have done.

A Raspberry Pi would make a great low-cost controller for a hacked cell booster...the result would be a portable, hacked cell site in a small package. If you wanted maximum utility then using a powerful tablet or netbook as the controller would be even better.

If you wanted to create the whole system from scratch then it would be possible to stuff it all into a package no larger than a pack of smokes. Placing such a thing inside the targets home, business, and/or car would be optimal.


7 posted on 01/20/2013 4:16:03 AM PST by Bobalu (It is not obama we are fighting, it is the media.)
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To: Venturer

FBI? America is a bankrupt nation where the Law
only depends on skin color, religion and connections.


8 posted on 01/20/2013 4:25:33 AM PST by Diogenesis (Vi veri veniversum vivus vici)
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To: Las Vegas Dave
Heck, you can just follow people around in your car and listen in with a CB radio or some such thing. Isn't that how the Democrats do it? Maybe even record those conversations with a tape recorder in the process of "accidentally" picking it up?

I think it is safe to say that this isn't new technology.

9 posted on 01/20/2013 4:28:44 AM PST by Major Matt Mason ("Journalism is dead. All news is suspect." - Noamie)
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To: Las Vegas Dave

No need for Stingray. The carriers can already provide location data anytime it’s needed. Location Based Services is nothing really new.

The carriers’s cell tower network, the radio network if you will, constantly keeps track of which numbers are attached to which tower and adjusts (and bills) accordingly.

It is ‘simple geometry’ to triangulate a phone’s location and bread crumbs.

You can subscribe to services that do this. Check out www.air-watch.com or even AT&ts family map.

No tin foil required.


10 posted on 01/20/2013 4:48:56 AM PST by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitur: non vehere est inermus)
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To: Venturer
"140% for Obama?"

St Lucie county had a two page ballot with 70% turnout. Not 140% Obama, but 53 to 46%

11 posted on 01/20/2013 5:23:24 AM PST by palmer (Obama = Carter + affirmative action)
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To: Venturer
>>Todays FBI is as corrupt as our elections are.<<

The scary thing...the whole government is corrupt and the people just suck it down, hook, line and sinker.

Politicians are NOT statesman. The way this government is run, was nothing like the framers intended.

One word comes to mind........Oligarchy.

12 posted on 01/20/2013 5:44:42 AM PST by servantboy777
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To: Las Vegas Dave

Note to survivalists, end-timers, and eschatologists of all stripe: DO NOT USE CELL PHONES FOR CRITICAL COMMUNICATIONS!!!!


13 posted on 01/20/2013 6:46:35 AM PST by IronJack (=)
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To: Las Vegas Dave
The feds say they use them to target specific groups or individuals and help track the movements of suspects in real time, not to intercept communications.

Well, if the FEDS say it...then it must be the truth!

14 posted on 01/20/2013 6:47:27 AM PST by unixfox (Abolish Slavery, Repeal The 16th Amendment!)
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To: JoeProBono

15 posted on 01/20/2013 6:52:12 AM PST by P.O.E. (Pray for America)
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To: Las Vegas Dave

There is no practical way to use an electronic communications device without the assumption you are being listened to. If you really *have* to communicate that way, you practically have to use military style one-use codes, assuming you don’t care that doing so compromises your locations. And the code does not communicate anything that could be verified with different surveillance.


16 posted on 01/20/2013 9:11:04 AM PST by yefragetuwrabrumuy (Best WoT news at rantburg.com)
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To: Las Vegas Dave

Cell phones have GPS in them and you can turn it off unless you use 911,so much for secret operations.


17 posted on 01/20/2013 9:33:48 AM PST by Vaduz
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To: Vaduz

Yep, the boyz at the 911 center know where you are. Once you are on the line they have lat and long on you within 3 meters. It’s ALL radio. ALL radios can be listened to by anyone that takes the time to find the frequency with software..


18 posted on 01/20/2013 12:36:52 PM PST by halfright (FAST & FURIOUS! DON'T ALLOW THEM TO DIVERT YOUR ATTENTION.)
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To: Blueflag
I dated someone who had an application on their phone that could find where your cell phone was, thus where you were. They would enter in a cell number to the application and be able to locate you/cell via the GPS. We didn't date long ;)
19 posted on 01/20/2013 10:47:19 PM PST by Saoirise (Free Larry Hutchins - USMC)
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To: Las Vegas Dave

Welcome to the USSA, comrades.


20 posted on 01/21/2013 6:53:30 AM PST by Travis McGee (www.EnemiesForeignAndDomestic.com)
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To: Saoirise
Try clicking here: http://aprs.fi/moving/

Scroll down and randomly click on a call sign.

Zoom in on the map and click on a red waypoint for info.

Use your "back" button and pick another.

This Ham radio system is known as APRS. Handy and a lot of fun.

You'll see it's used a lot more in the rest of the world than in the USA.

Notice the speeds. A lot of ships, some aircraft.

21 posted on 01/21/2013 7:36:35 AM PST by Mogger (Independence, better fuel economy and performance with American made synthetic oil.)
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To: Saoirise

GPS not even needed. The cell network alone can be pretty discrete, especially in urban areas.


22 posted on 01/21/2013 9:58:24 AM PST by Blueflag (Res ipsa loquitur: non vehere est inermus)
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