Known as Stingrays, the FBI has admitted to using cell phone towers to track you. Their usual response includes they must do this to catch terrorists, pedophiles and missing children.
The press conference actually occurred back in October, but the video didn’t surface until this weekend and hadn’t been reported on until the Charlotte Observer’s excellent investigation into the use of Stingrays by local police was published on Sunday.
Stingrays work by allowing police to track the movement of a suspect, and are often used without a warrant, which was recently declared unconstitutional by the Florida Supreme Court.
Comey also said that the agency has “nothing to hide” from “good people,” but that secrecy is important if Stingrays are going to be effective. Comey doesn’t note, however, that, in trying to track down any one “bad person,” the agency law enforcement necessarily tracks the locations of everyone within a wide geographic radius, thanks to the way the technology works.
The ACLU, meanwhile, has said that every year, millions of good people are getting wrapped up in a surveillance dragnet they didn’t ask to be involved in.
“The devices wrap up innocent people, which looks like a dragnet search that’s not legal under the Fourth Amendment,” Nate Wessler, a staff attorney for the ACLU, recently told me. “Even if they’re tracking a specific suspect, they’re getting info about every bystander. That’s a concern.”