Texas Paid Hundreds of Thousands to Spy on Cellphones With Surveillance Planes
Just after reading how 2 LAPD cops got caught planting cocaine, now wondering how the tech here could be further abused. Falsely claim you were near a crime to get a warrant for your home or car? Send intimidating texts ? It’s a powerful and so far warrantless tool for police to use. What check exists on semi secret activities like this?
Last year, military surveillance aircraft in Texas were outfitted with devices designed to spy on cellphones, including their location, numbers dialed, text messages and photos and even the content of their calls, The Texas Observer reports. The newspaper obtained documents between the Texas National Guard, the DEA and a Maryland-based company called Digital Receiver Technology (DRT) outlining a $373,000 contract to install cellphone surveillance software on the planes as part of anti-drug trafficking operations. The money reportedly came from Texas drug asset forfeiture funds.
…Privacy advocates have long derided cell-site simulators because they operate in secrecy. Authorities have fought hard to withhold information on how much data stingrays collect, even dropping charges rather than revealing information about the technology. The Justice Department, however, has policies for the use of such devices by federal agencies and police departments that partner with them: officials must secure a warrant before using them in criminal investigations and must delete all data on users not targeted within 30 days. The rules do not apply to “national security” operations.