The National Security Agency is constantly under an accusal of collecting data from personal cellphones. And now local police is also suspected in using new technologies that allows its experts to capture data from thousands of private cellphones.
The investigation of the work methods of more than 125 police agencies in 33 states, showed that:
- 25% pf agencies use a “tower dump” tactics that receives identity, activity and location data of all mobile devices connected to the cellphone tower.
- Quarter of police departments owns a Stingray – the device that connects to all mobile devices in the neighborhood and collects data from them. Purchased as an anti-terror units, Stingrays are accessible to any local police department in certain states.
Police representatives state that collected cellphone data can be helpful on crime solving and searching for abducted children.
Today police doesn’t require warrants to collect data from those towers and that raised a lot of questions around legal standards of using such technologies.
Police states that with help of cellphone data collection they are able to solve many crimes connected with mobile devices, though the practice shows that this approach is time-consuming and not that practical. There are many other workable ways of gathering information, like license-plate readers or red-light cameras when policemen are searching for motorists.
With help of Stingrays police has a possibility to catch data from cellphones, however, the content of calls will remain secret. However, no one outside the police and Harris Corp. of Melbourne, developer of Stingrays, actually knows what kind of information Stingrays can catch.
One of the major concerns of privacy advocates is that cutting-edge police tactics may turn against people at a political protest.