The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution states:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
So what would you say if you found out that police in your area are using an electronic device to invade your privacy and in a growing number of cases, without a warrant. Not only are some local police departments doing this, but so are state and federal law enforcement agencies.
Legally, law enforcement has to prove that there is enough probable cause to get a judge to issue a warrant that allows law enforcement to gather the necessary information covered by the warrant. This is usually done through the phone and broadband providers.
The generic name for the electronic device being used is a ‘stingray.’ The stingray acts like a cell phone tower that picks up the signal of all cell phones, laptops and tablets being used in the area. Once detected, the stingray helps law enforcement not only detect your location, but track all of your electronic phone calls and internet use, allowing them to monitor what you say and do.
But some law enforcement agencies have been bypassing the judges and have been using the stingrays to obtain personal information without getting a warrant. Mark Hyman with Behind the Headlines points out that the Tallahassee Police Department used stingray over 200 times in one year without securing warrants. They claim that the non-disclosure agreement they signed with the company that makes the stingray device supersedes the law and the Fourth Amendment.
The scary thing about this is that you have no idea if any law enforcement agencies in your area have illegally tapped into your phone calls and internet use. It’s even scarier to realize that they believe an agreement with a private company carries more authority than the United States Constitution and the Fourth Amendment that guarantees you from illegal search and seizure.
While the public was focused on the illegal spying on Americans by the NSA, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are doing the very same thing and most of you have no idea it’s happening.