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StingRay Devices found to violate 4th Amendment.... Finally....

Discussion in 'Survival Communications' started by BTPost, Apr 5, 2016.

  1. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Stingray ruling could challenge hundreds of Baltimore convictions

    Maryland could appeal to supreme court to reverse ruling that found police use of device to track cellphones without warrant in violation of fourth amendment
    Stingray ruling was the first by an appeals court to hold that using cell site simulator technology without warrant violates a person’s right against illegal search and seizure. Photograph: Electronic Frontier Foundation via Flickr / Creative Commons
    Baynard Woods in Baltimore

    Tuesday 5 April 2016 14.17 EDTLast modified on Tuesday 5 April 201616.13 EDT

    A major Maryland court ruling that found police cannot use cellphones as a “real-time tracking device” without a warrant could call into question hundreds, if notthousands, of convictions in Baltimore – and set a precedent for similar privacy cases across the US.

    The ruling by Maryland’s second-highest court was the first by an appeals court to hold that using cell site simulator technology known as Stingray without a warrant violates an individual’s fourth amendment protections against illegal search and seizure.

    The state has 16 days to appeal against the ruling to the state’s highest court, and legal observers expect it could reach the US supreme court. The attorney general’s office would not say whether it would ask the high court to reverse the ruling, saying it was still evaluating the case.

    The technology, which is produced by the Harris corporation and is widely used by law enforcement and the IRS, imitates a cell tower, forces a phone to send a signal and traps metadata from phones that can reveal their location. A USA Today investigation has shown that the technology has been used in making arrests for everything from kidnapping to petty theft, but its use has often been obscured in police reports using vague language.

    In the Maryland court of special appeals case, Kerron Andrews was wanted on attempted murder charges. When the police could not locate him, a detective got his cell number from a confidential informant and asked a judge for a “PEN register” or “trap and trace order”, a kind of court order which is not a warrant and doesn’t face the same legal requirements regarding probable cause. The information he obtained from that allowed the detective to find the general area of Andrews’ phone. Using the Hailstorm, also known generally by the name Stingray, the department was able to go to that area and pinpoint the precise location of the phone inside a specific residence, which was not his own. They secured Andrews in the location and only then obtained a search warrant.

    At first, the department failed to reveal how it arrived at his location. But Andrews told his public defender, Deborah Levi, that his phone was acting funny. “It was Kerron who suspected that they had used it from the beginning because his phone was going a little crazy,” Levi said.

    “When I told my lawyer, she automatically said, ‘They came to this address? This was not your address. How did they know you were there?’ So she instantly started to put in motions to find out,” Andrews told the Guardian. “She was right on it.”

    When prosecutors finally disclosed that the department used Hailstorm to locate Andrews and only later obtained a warrant, Levi moved to suppress any evidence gained from the use of Hailstorm as a fourth amendment issue.

    “I felt violated,” Andrews, who was released on bail on Friday, said. “I’m just thankful that it came out. Because a lot of people are sitting in jail right now that don’t even know that this was used in their case. They’re away from their families. Mine’s the first of its kind. It’s still not over yet, but it’s just betrayal.”

    An ACLU report shows that 61 agencies in 23 states and the District of Columbia have purchased Stingray devices, but Levi said that this is one of the first times that the full scope of this technology has made it into the public record of a courtroom – partly because of non-disclosure agreements between the Harris corporation, the FBI and local jurisdictions. In 2011, Baltimore signed such anagreement that prevents the police department or state’s attorney’s office from even acknowledging use of the technology.

    “It’s shocking,” Levi said. “They engage in a third-party contract to violate people’s constitutional rights.”

    In another case last summer, when a detective refused to reveal details about the use of a Stingray device, which had located a suspect’s cellphone, as a result of the non-disclosure agreement, Judge Barry Williams said: “You don’t have a non-disclosure agreement with the court,” and threatened him with contempt.
    “The non-disclosure agreement amounts to obstruction of justice and not just in one case. It amounts to systemic obstruction of justice from the state’s attorney’s office,” said Josh Insley, the defense attorney in that case.

    But TJ Smith, a spokesman for theBaltimore police department, said the department’s policy has shifted: “We discuss the usage of this equipment openly in court.”

    The Baltimore office of the public defender is reviewing cases it could challenge on the heels of this ruling and is focusing on the most serious 200, where people have been imprisoned because of discoveries made as a result of the undisclosed use of Stingray or Hailstorm. “And that’s just our office,” Levi said, noting that the process of dealing with all of the cases will be complicated, because Maryland law allows prisoners only one year to challenge their conviction without relying on a special post-conviction remedy, such as that recently granted to Adnan Syed, after the podcast Serial brought new evidence to light.

    “This has now definitely been placed on the police and state’s attorney’s office to go back and identify people who have been wrongly imprisoned,” Insley said.

    The state’s attorney’s office did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

    In its ruling on the Andrews case, the court of special appeals noted that “such an extensive prohibition on the disclosure of information to the court … prevents the court from exercising its fundamental duties under the constitution”.

    The use of Hailstorm and Stingray devices, Levi argued, is different than other cases using cellphone data to determine where a person was at the time of a crime because, in Stingray cases, the device “operated by emitting a signal ‘through the wall of a house’ and ‘into the phone’” thus violating a reasonable expectation of privacy.

    “It’s all about the reasonable expectation of privacy and just because you have a fancy piece of equipment that no one can see, smell or touch doesn’t mean you get to use it,” Levi said.

    The court agreed with her arguments, allowing that “cell site simulators, such as Hailstorm, can locate and track the movements of a cellphone and its user across both public and private spaces. Unchecked, the use of this technology would allow the government to discover the private and personal habits of every user.” The court agreed with earlier rulings that “[t]he fiction that the vast majority of the American population consents to warrantless government access to the records of a significant share of their movements by choosing to carry a cellphone must be rejected”.

    Nevertheless, in part because of the non-disclosure agreements, this is the first time there has been a ruling by an appeals court on a Stingray case.

    “There has been no written decision on this issue,” Levi said. “And it’s widespread all across the country and we’re hoping that people put the stop on this warrantless search.”
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Like Baltimore (and Maryland in general) needs more litigation. And perps out on bail awaiting re-trial. I can't see any innocents getting released, but the courts are going to get backed up until 2150 with retrials, and the payouts for illegal search and seizure, even if well intended and caught the baddies, is going to be astronomical.
  3. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    This is what happens when the .Gov gets caught playing Fast & Loose With the Bill of Rights.... They knew that this was "Questionable Conduct" but it was so easy to do, as long as they kept it "Under Raps" and they could try and deal with "Disclouser" by Non-Disclouser Agreements... What they failed to take into account IS, that operation of such a Device, by ANYONE, Not a Federal Agent, is a Federal Felony... And so far no one has brought that FACT, to the attention of a Court of Law.... I believe that this is due to the 4th Amendent Violations are a Bigger Deal, to a Judge, then the Felony Opertions of local & State LEOs... However, these Felony Operations ARE very easy to Prove, just by the simple FACTs, that they are Direct Violations of the Communications Act of 1934, as Amended... All State & local Law Enforcement are REQUIRED to have a Radio Station License that covers ALL Frequecies that they use, under CFR47Part90...There is NO Frequency Allocation in Part90 for Cellulat/PCS Frequencies, so no Station License could be issued for operations on those Frequecies. Operation of an UnLicensed Radio Emitter, that interferes with a Licensed Service (Cellular Phone Service CFR47Part 20) is a Federal Felony, and a Viloation of The Communications Act of 1934 as Amended. This does NOT APPLY to the Federal .Gov, as their Frequency Allocations do NOT come from the FCC, but thru the the WhiteHouse Office of Science & Technology... This means the FEDs can cover up such Operations, with all sorts of Official BS, like National Security, or Classified Restrictions...
    Altoidfishfins likes this.
  4. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    The answer is simple; have just cause and get a warrant.
  5. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    well my hat is off to the Baltimore police for being willing to openly engage in a litigation to get this on the table as a violation. THe other agencies have been using stingray and won't reveal that they use it by hiding behind a 'non disclosure' agreement. That is double speak for 'we do this because we can'
  6. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    I would like to see the local US Attorney indict the Police Chief for Felony Violations of the Communications Act of 1934, as Amended... That would put the "Fear of God" into e very State & local CopShop, that has one of these devices.... Conviction is 5 Years & $50K for every day, that the device was in use... That would be fun to watch the Chief squirm for a while....

    I can dream... Ok?
  7. Brokor

    Brokor Live Free or Cry Moderator Site Supporter+++ Founding Member

    Don't we wish...

    And we all know this doesn't change anything. At most, the police will just get a "warrant" on the fly and proceed as usual.
    There's never going to be backward steps in the surveillance state agenda. They take the ground, they hold it for good.
    Ganado likes this.
  8. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    No Brokor, a Warrant doesn't allow the State & local Cops to commit Federal Felonies, while pursuing a case... Doing so, causes ALL Evidence & Information collected by using the device, to be "Fruit of the Poisonious Tree" and inadmissible in Court. This is the GIANT Gorilla.in the Room, that the FEDs REALLY do NOT want getting out of the Bag, on ALL These Cases... No Judge can authorize the Police to commit Federal Felonies, while conducting a Criminal Investigation... and. Usually if. They Know, that this happened, there would be Sanctions, BigTime, for those Officers, and they would NEVER get another Warrant from that Judge... EVER....
  9. bpaintx

    bpaintx Monkey+

    I would speculate that a task force officer that was deputized by the USMS or other agency was the affiant on the stingray application, and it was used under that pretext.
  10. BTPost

    BTPost Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Nope, it is NOT Who is on the Application, it is Who is "Operating" the device, that counts... In the Court of Law, the Statute says the Operator, must be an EMPLOYEE of the Licensee, in the case of a State or Local .GOV.... So, the FEDs can own it, but THEY also must be "Operating" at the time the information is collected, or said State or local LEO Operator is committing a Federal Felony... and ALL Information Collected, AND any subsequent Information discovered by use of the Information Collected, is "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree" and NOT Admissible.... and this can't be fixed by any Judge, Who issues a Warrant... for such a Search... .Gov can NOT gather Admissable Information while committing a Felony Action to get that information... It is a Felony to lie to a Federal Agent, and should a State or local LEO, do so he can be charged for that... It has happened...
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