Legislation aims to ban use of stingrays without warrants

New legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives aims to prohibit federal, state and local government agencies from using without a warrant so-called stingrays or cell-site simulators often used to intercept mobile communications.

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New legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives aims to prohibit federal, state and local government agencies from using without a warrant so-called stingrays or cell-site simulators often used to intercept mobile communications.

Stingrays or “IMSI catchers” track the location of mobile phones by mimicking cellphone towers. The use of this technology without a warrant by law enforcement has been criticized by civil rights groups.

The new legislation will try to implement on a nationwide basis and across all federal and state agencies moves taken by the Department of Justice, which said in September that law enforcement agents will have to obtain a search warrant supported by probable cause before using a cell-site simulator, with some exceptions. Under the DOJ policy, old and irrelevant data would also have to be deleted.

The Department of Homeland Security also announced a similar requirement of warrant and its data retention policy for the use of stingrays. 

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