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Local Law Enforcement Using NSA Methods To Spy On Cellphones

You are on the front lines of the War on Terror – you are the target. Local and state police are now using NSA type methods to suck up the public’s cell phone data according to USA Today. With new technologies provided either by the federal government or other vendors, local and state police are capturing information from the public without warrants or oversight.

The records, from more than 125 police agencies in 33 states, reveal:

• About one in four law-enforcement agencies have used a tactic known as a “tower dump,” which gives police data about the identity, activity and location of any phone that connects to the targeted cellphone towers over a set span of time, usually an hour or two. A typical dump covers multiple towers, and wireless providers, and can net information from thousands of phones.

• At least 25 police departments own a Stingray, a suitcase-size device that costs as much as $400,000 and acts as a fake cell tower. The system, typically installed in a vehicle so it can be moved into any neighborhood, tricks all nearby phones into connecting to it and feeding data to police. In some states, the devices are available to any local police department via state surveillance units. The federal government funds most of the purchases, via anti-terror grants.

• Thirty-six more police agencies refused to say whether they’ve used either tactic. Most denied public records requests, arguing that criminals or terrorists could use the information to thwart important crime-fighting and surveillance techniques.

It’s a free fire zone against Americans’ civil liberties. So much for the Fourth Amendment.

If it was not bad enough that a shadowy government agency is listening to your phone calls and tracking your porn and gaming habits – now your neighborhood police officer is. Because, freedom.

The idea that anyone, let alone Aaron Swartz or Barrett Brown, has been targeted for prosecution for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) is a joke while literally millions of government officials are hacking innocent citizens everyday.

The surveillance state is completely out of control.

CommunityThe Bullpen

Local Law Enforcement Using NSA Methods To Spy On Cellphones

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You are on the front lines of the War on Terror – you are the target. Local and state police are now using NSA type methods to suck up the public’s cell phone data according to USA Today. With new technologies provided either by the federal government or other vendors, local and state police are capturing information from the public without warrants or oversight.

The records, from more than 125 police agencies in 33 states, reveal:

• About one in four law-enforcement agencies have used a tactic known as a “tower dump,” which gives police data about the identity, activity and location of any phone that connects to the targeted cellphone towers over a set span of time, usually an hour or two. A typical dump covers multiple towers, and wireless providers, and can net information from thousands of phones.

• At least 25 police departments own a Stingray, a suitcase-size device that costs as much as $400,000 and acts as a fake cell tower. The system, typically installed in a vehicle so it can be moved into any neighborhood, tricks all nearby phones into connecting to it and feeding data to police. In some states, the devices are available to any local police department via state surveillance units. The federal government funds most of the purchases, via anti-terror grants.

• Thirty-six more police agencies refused to say whether they’ve used either tactic. Most denied public records requests, arguing that criminals or terrorists could use the information to thwart important crime-fighting and surveillance techniques.

It’s a free fire zone against Americans’ civil liberties. So much for the Fourth Amendment.

If it was not bad enough that a shadowy government agency is listening to your phone calls and tracking your porn and gaming habits – now your neighborhood police officer is. Because, freedom.

The idea that anyone, let alone Aaron Swartz or Barrett Brown, has been targeted for prosecution for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) is a joke while literally millions of government officials are hacking innocent citizens everyday.

The surveillance state is completely out of control.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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