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Cops Say NDA Kept Them from Notifying Courts About Cell Phone Tracking Gadget 235

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-can't-say dept.
schwit1 writes "Police in Florida have offered a startling excuse for having used a controversial 'stingray' cell phone tracking gadget 200 times without ever telling a judge: the device's manufacturer made them sign a non-disclosure agreement that they say prevented them from telling the courts. The shocking revelation, uncovered by the American Civil Liberties Union, came during an appeal over a 2008 sexual battery case in Tallahassee in which the suspect also stole the victim's cell phone. Using the stingray — which simulates a cell phone tower in order to trick nearby mobile devices into connecting to it and revealing their location — police were able to track him to an apartment."
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Cops Say NDA Kept Them from Notifying Courts About Cell Phone Tracking Gadget

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:00PM (#46389113)

    Confidentiality agreements do not supersede the law, court orders, the constitution, or anything else. Private contractual agreements always take a back seat to binding Law and Court Orders.

    The police department in question probably asked for an NDA to give them rationalization for breaking the law.

    • by Immerman (2627577) on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:21PM (#46389331)

      Indeed. If a contract requires you break the law, you are legally obligated to refuse to sign. Signing with the intent to obey the law would be fraud, and signing with the intent to break the law would be conspiracy to commit a crime.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:40PM (#46389483)

        If a contract requires you break the law, you are legally obligated to refuse to sign

        Not really. If contract is in violation of municipal, state, or federal laws, either in whole or in part, the contract is unenforcable. E.g. if your contract states you must smoke weed while performing some duty, it is illegal to smoke weed and so the contract would not hold up in court. However, most contracts have a provision which would only mark the unenforcable section invalid but due to seperation of parts the rest can be considered valid E.g. if your contract states you must not drive between certain hours and in another section states you must smoke weed, the provision would mean not smoking weed won't violate your contract but driving outside of the hours would.

        I always look for contracts that have illegal provisions and make sure I sign the document. Then I can get out of the contract without worry.

      • by Aighearach (97333) on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:42PM (#46389497) Homepage

        False. Illegal portions of the contract are not enforceable, and you simply are NOT required to do those parts. And if you knew they were not enforceable, then there is no conspiracy. This happens frequently.

        To have a conspiracy you have to have some action taken in furtherance of the crime. Signing the contract and then also taking a step to further the illegal actions, then the contract proves intent. But only once they already have you in those other details.

        • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:53PM (#46389615)

          "And if you knew they were not enforceable, then there is no conspiracy. This happens frequently.

          But the police department is claiming they are enforceable. So by this logic, there is conspiracy, since they reasonably must have known it was not so. Not conspiracy with the other party, to be sure, but conspiracy to break the law.

          To have a conspiracy you have to have some action taken in furtherance of the crime."

          You mean like illegally tapping telephones then giving obviously bogus justifications to the court?

          • by causality (777677) on Monday March 03, 2014 @04:05PM (#46389705)

            You mean like illegally tapping telephones then giving obviously bogus justifications to the court?

            Don't worry. No matter how many cases like this we know about, the next time you are in a courtroom and it's your word against the police officer's, you will lose. Every time.

            So you see, they have everything under control.

    • by msauve (701917) on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:39PM (#46389467)
      Additionally, using one of those boxes would require court approval. Perhaps not for a traditional search warrant, but certainly to allow the police, who are not licensees of the radio frequencies involved, to operate these intentional transmitters. And that probably means federal court approval.
      • "Additionally, using one of those boxes would require court approval. Perhaps not for a traditional search warrant, but certainly to allow the police, who are not licensees of the radio frequencies involved, to operate these intentional transmitters. And that probably means federal court approval."

        That's an interesting point. I wonder if the apellants in this case thought of it.

      • by Obfuscant (592200) on Monday March 03, 2014 @05:01PM (#46390265)

        Additionally, using one of those boxes would require court approval. Perhaps not for a traditional search warrant, but certainly to allow the police, who are not licensees of the radio frequencies involved, to operate these intentional transmitters. And that probably means federal court approval.

        No. Federal courts do not issue FCC licenses for radio use, the FCC does. Licensing the radios would not be subject to a warrant request. Courts, federal or local, don't have the technical expertise to issue radio licenses, nor do they have statutory authority.

        It appears that running a microcell is no longer a huge issue with respect to licenses. This company [rangenetworks.com] will sell you a complete cell system in a box, needing only an IP connection. How they deal with licensing is not apparent from their website.

        On the issue of using the "controversial device" to track the criminal in this case, I'm not so ready to jump on the "police broke the law" bandwagon. If someone steals my LoJack equipped car (or OnStar) the police do not need a warrant to get location information from either source. The criminal has no reasonable expectation of privacy related to the location of MY CAR after he's stolen it. Why would a criminal who steals a cell phone, which by it's very nature is inherently trackable, have such an expectation for a phone he's stolen? This is not a case of "locate Frank Smith so we can track his whereabouts whenever we want to", it's a case of "find the location of stolen property so we can recover it for the rightful owner." If they happen to find that stolen property in the possession of a criminal and can arrest him at the same time, that's a plus.

        • by AdamThor (995520)

          "On the issue of using the "controversial device" to track the criminal in this case, I'm not so ready to jump on the "police broke the law" bandwagon."

          So I don't know about actually using the device, I see your logic here. But isn't there a requirement that evidence be disclosed to the accused? I think that's the issue here.

          Let us strive to be correct in our outrage...

          • by Obfuscant (592200)

            So I don't know about actually using the device, I see your logic here. But isn't there a requirement that evidence be disclosed to the accused? I think that's the issue here.

            I think the issue was the actual act of sticking a foot in the door and how the consent was obtained to search, not anything to do with how the stolen device was tracked. At least, that's what the court seems to be interested in.

            I read the Wired article. The "stingray" doesn't belong to the police department, it was on loan, so the licensing issue attaches to the company (Hughes), which almost certainly has such a license. They make radios. They'll have all kinds of licenses. And Wired doesn't even know f

    • Naw man, come here, sign this agreement.

      First thing it says is that you will never tell anybody about the existence of this agreement, no way, no how, no foolin'.

      Next we get to the good stuff where you and I do all kinds of illegal things, but, since we're bound by this agreement, we can never tell anybody about it, not even under oath in a court of law.

      Ya see: airtight, uptight, and outta sight.

      Strangely enough, I had a former employer ask me to sign my rights to sue them away under a "secrecy bound" agree

  • by grahamsaa (1287732) on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:02PM (#46389135)
    Sorry Judge, I can't be compelled to testify against my accomplice -- we signed a non-disclosure agreement.
  • WTF???? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:04PM (#46389155) Homepage

    Police in Florida have offered a startling excuse for having used a controversial 'stingray' cell phone tracking gadget 200 times without ever telling a judge: the device's manufacturer made them sign a non-disclosure agreement that they say prevented them from telling the courts

    I'm sorry, but what?

    You broke the law because if you'd told the courts you'd be breaking an NDA with the company?

    How the hell can a police force enter into a contract which expressly requires them to break the law?? What genius lawyer signed off on that one?

    Oh, sorry your honor, we couldn't tell you we were violating the law because we signed a contract?

    That's ridiculous.

    • Re:WTF???? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sjames (1099) on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:30PM (#46389405) Homepage

      On one side, they had an NDA prevention any disclosures about the device or it's use. On the other, if they used it they were obligated to tell the courts about it.

      The legal solution is simple and obvious: don't use the damned thing. It's the only way to obey the law and avoid breech of contract at the same time.

      In a situation where you actually cannot obey the law and a contract at the same time, the contract term is null and void. No legal contract can require a violation of the law.

    • Re:WTF???? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aighearach (97333) on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:44PM (#46389517) Homepage

      More likely, they simply lied and made up an excuse where they look stupid, to protect themselves against looking criminal.

      Most likely the NDA requires that they ask the court to seal documents, if it mentions the courts at all; most likely it was to prevent them from telling the media, or anybody else.

    • Re:WTF???? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Solandri (704621) on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:50PM (#46389577)

      You broke the law because if you'd told the courts you'd be breaking an NDA with the company?

      They didn't break the law. TFS is written in a way that makes the reader presuppose the use of these devices is illegal without a warrant. From TFA:

      The government has long asserted that it doesn't need to obtain a probable-cause warrant to use the devices because they don't collect the content of phone calls and text messages but rather operate like pen-registers and trap-and-traces, collecting the equivalent of header information.

      They did not want to obtain a search warrant to enter the apartment âoebecause they did not want to reveal information [to a judge] about the technology they used to track the cell phone signal, the appellate judges note.

      "[Wh]en police use invasive surveillance equipment to surreptitiously sweep up information about the locations and communications of large numbers of people, court oversight and public debate are essential,â the [ACLU] noted in its post.

      So the current state of affairs is that there is no law (yet) concerning use of these devices, and some in the government are arguing that no law is needed. There being no law, law enforcement did not want to rock the boat by revealing the devices to the courts so that there might be a new law made (either through legislation or court precedent). The ACLU is arguing that there should be a law prohibiting their use without a warrant.

      TFS is written as if the ACLU stance is the current state of affairs, and law enforcement sought to work around it. In fact it's the other way around. Use of these devices is currently legal, and law enforcement sought to keep it that way by not revealing them to the courts so that no ruling on their use would be made. The ACLU is trying to argue for a law requiring a warrant to use these devices.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by xevioso (598654)

        Why is it that posts which actually shed some light on what is actually happening in the situation are always at the bottom of a thread? This appears to be the sad state of affairs on /. Seriously, even if I disagree with someone, I always just scroll to the bottom of a thread to get something even remotely insightful about something.

        • Re:WTF???? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by vux984 (928602) on Monday March 03, 2014 @04:58PM (#46390241)

          It takes time for someone to actually read the article.

            The first responses are usually based on the headline (if we're lucky), the next few made it through at least part of the summary. Some if may be insightful, some not...

          But its not until someone's actually read the article that any thing salient to the content of the article can get posted.

      • by Agent0013 (828350)

        So the current state of affairs is that there is no law (yet) concerning use of these devices, and some in the government are arguing that no law is needed. There being no law, law enforcement did not want to rock the boat by revealing the devices to the courts so that there might be a new law made (either through legislation or court precedent). The ACLU is arguing that there should be a law prohibiting their use without a warrant. .

        That is like saying if I invent a new beam energy weapon that can cook your eyeballs into a goo and fry your brain until you die, it isn't illegal to use it as there is no law against using newly invented beam weapons to fry people. That is just plain absurd! It's illegal to tap people's phones without a warrant. Just because you are using a new piece of tech to do it does not make it legal!

        • by slew (2918)

          That is like saying if I invent a new beam energy weapon that can cook your eyeballs into a goo and fry your brain until you die, it isn't illegal to use it as there is no law against using newly invented beam weapons to fry people. That is just plain absurd! It's illegal to tap people's phones without a warrant. Just because you are using a new piece of tech to do it does not make it legal!

          No, this is like saying if you invent a new beam energy weapon that can cook your eyeballs into a goo and fry your brain until you die, it isn't yet illegal to use it to do thing that don't break current laws. Since killing people is currently against the law, you couldn't do that. Threatening people with bodily harm is also against the law.

          However, using it in a pulse mode to reshape your cornea to improve vision is probably okay unless they pass a law against it even though it *could* cook your eyeballs

      • Re:WTF???? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Monday March 03, 2014 @04:21PM (#46389859) Homepage

        Actually there is a law. The highest law. The 4th Amendment forbids general searches, which is the only thing this device enables.

        Secondly, they want to apply the third party doctrine, specifically, if you share info with a phone company they can just hoover it up. But none of the people whose cell phones were affected made an agreement to share information with the cops directly -- the cops in this situation are not a third party, they're "the man" in the middle.

    • by Atrox666 (957601)

      I guess when they said that they would tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth they committed perjury since they intended to not disclose to the court.

      • IANAL, but I don't think so. Perjury is lying under oath, not taking the oath while intending to violate it. Probably, what happened is that the prosecutor was very careful not to ask any questions that would force the cops to mention the device, and the defense can only cross-examine a witness about things that were brought up during the direct examination.
  • Surprisingly lazy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by schneidafunk (795759) on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:04PM (#46389157)

    This is exactly a case where I am OK with tracking down the criminal through the cell phone. The warrant would absolutely have been granted if they bothered to ask for it.

    FTA:
    According to the appellate court judges, after a young woman reported on September 13, 2008 that she had been raped and that her purse, containing a cell phone, had been stolen, police tracked the location of her phone about 24 hours later to the apartment of Thomas’ girlfriend.

    “The investigators settled on a specific apartment ‘shortly after midnight’ or ‘approximately 1:00 to 2:00 a.m.’ on September 14, 2008,” the court wrote. “For the next few hours, six or seven police officers milled around outside the apartment, but made no effort to obtain a search warrant.”

    • Re:Surprisingly lazy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:15PM (#46389273) Homepage

      This is exactly a case where I am OK with tracking down the criminal through the cell phone. The warrant would absolutely have been granted if they bothered to ask for it.

      Except that they didn't get a warrant, subsequently used the device in a bunch of other cases (again, without warrants) is mind boggling.

      An NDA with a vendor is not a free pass to violate the law, and if the police are stupid enough to believe they can do anything they want because they signed an NDA, they're horribly mistaken.

      A vendor of such things cannot compel you to violate the law. And they should have known this -- surely somewhere they have legal counsel who can say "well, that doesn't mean you can do this any time you like".

      This is either stupidity and incompetence, or deciding you now have a loophole to do an end run around the law whenever you choose.

      That's like telling your mom that when you bought your brother's bicycle for $0.10 her right to punish you was covered by an NDA. It simply doesn't work that way. She will still punish you, and the courts need to really do the same here.

      • This is where you take your mother to court for abuse and file a petition of emancipation. Good luck weaselling out of contract terms then.
    • by msauve (701917)
      They would have needed court approval to even operate the device, since it transmits on frequencies they're not licensed to use. And, I suspect that would have to be federal court authorization, since RF is under federal jurisdiction.
    • by sjames (1099)

      That's the real problem here. A warrant would have been a slam dunk in this case since presumably the rightful owner of the cellphone was happy to have it tracked.

      The simple fact is that more and more police believe themselves to BE the law and no longer care to put up with silly things like judges, courts, the public, or the Constitution.

      It's sad that they let their baggage damage what would otherwise been a clear cut prosecution. If they can't find a way to lose that baggage, they can't be an effective po

    • Seems to me that Law Enforcement Officers are increasingly the product of poor training and over zealous attitudes that can be summarized a "we are better than you and more important that you".

      Beating a Schizophrenic homeless man to death.
      Brutalizing a deaf man who can't respond to questions.
      Shooting unarmed people because they "thought" they had a gun.
      Simply saying and doing stupid things (you have no right to film, open carry, be "here" as opposed to 10 feet over "there".)
      Erasing dash cam tapes of just tu

    • For a minor crime like rape big fancy defense lawyers are not getting involved unless you are somebody important.

      MOST cases are settled !! If suspects hardly ever go to trial because people settle, they only need to scare the shit out of the suspect to confess or make a plea bargain. If you are unlikely to go to trial and fight for your rights (and BE a defendant) then why should they care about violating your rights??

      Seriously, with all this settling and success measured by simple conviction rates they c

  • Well... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Assuming the NDA can be held to apply in this case (which in fact it would not) -

    Not being able to tell the court obviously precludes being able to ask them for authorization to use the device. This does NOT mean they can use it without authorization from a court, but in fact the exact opposite: the NDA would make it completely unusable, as they can't get that required authorization.

    Just wow.

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      Yeah, I hope they nail them to the wall over this. Somehow though I doubt that will happen.

      • Yeah, I hope they nail them to the wall over this. Somehow though I doubt that will happen.

        Well we can hope that was the contractually stipulated penalty for disclosure..

  • by Kimomaru (2579489)
    So, I'm not a lawyer, but I guess the thinking applied here is that an NDA can be used to not comply with the law? So, by that reasoning, can anyone scribble an NDA on a napkin and get away with anything?
    • by Immerman (2627577)

      Only if you're in Law Enforcement, in which case the de-facto law seems to be: Do whatever you want, but be sure to have at least a flimsy excuse ready if you get caught. Otherwise we may have to sentence you to a few months paid vacation to think about what you've done.

  • NDA Law? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:09PM (#46389211) Homepage Journal

    Since when does a contract, any contract, supersede the legal system?

    Oh, right - they don't, and this bullshit excuse for illegal use of surveillance equipment is exactly the out this scumbag rapist needs to get acquitted.

    Nice work, morons.

    • FWIW, the title to this comment should be "NDA > Law," but somebody forgot that comment subjects are governed by the same formatting rules as the comments themselves...

    • by Type44Q (1233630)

      Nice work, morons.

      If their goal was to obtain an iron-clad judgement against the alleged offender, they've presumably failed. However, I very much doubt that they give a shit about that. If their goal is something else entirely (which I strongly suspect it is), then there's hardly anything moronic about what they did. Unconstitutional and un-American, definitely... immoral and lacking integrity, certainly. But moronic? It's a bit moronic to make assumptions about their goals, IMHO..

      • They gathered evidence in an illegal manner. Thanks to their gathering of evidence in an illegal manner, any case they might have had against a known rapist is now gone. As they botched their case, now a known rapist gets to walk free, with impunity.

        Seems the definition of moronic [google.com] to me.

  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:13PM (#46389249) Homepage

    âoeFor purposes of decision, however, we assume the police acted lawfully up to the point that they forcibly entered the apartment,â they wrote in their November opinion. âoeIt is not clear that there was ever a ruling on the legality of the cell phone tracking methods used below.â

    So.... this particular question is excluded from this particular review, and that part of the investigation "we assume the police acted lawfully".

    Am I correct in reading that this means; should the appeal fail; that another appeal claiming that the actions leading up to the search were not legal should be expected? Seems that such an assumption would mean there is another question which could potentially come into play in another review.

    Seems like the police really screwed the pooch on this one. From a civil rights POV it is pretty clear they should toss the evidence and let this rapist go. Its sad when rapists get to go free on technicalities but, we can't forget,.....this is the Police's fault.

    They risked letting a rapist go free so they could hide their techniques; and now....no only did they fail at hiding their techniques, but also failed to protect the community.

    • by Immerman (2627577) on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:50PM (#46389569)

      Indeed. They say that bad cases make bad law, and I'd say this one qualifies in spades. Either a rapist escapes justice, or we get some really horrible precedent established with regards to government surveillance. Then again maybe not - most rapists don't conveniently get caught with their hand in the cookie jar, hopefully the rest of the evidence is convincing enough that the guy rots anyway, even if the arrest itself was blatantly illegal.

      I really wish we'd at see some cases of individual police officers convicted for blatant disregard of the constitution - not the police department, as is usually the case, with penalties being passed back to the tax payers, I want to see the individual officers responsible doing hard time. I can see granting a little leeway for conventional law - there's way too many of those for any person to keep track of what is and is not illegal, but the constitution is the supreme law of the land, short enough to read completely on your lunch break, and mostly written in clear and concise language. There's no fucking excuse for those whom we grant the sacred trust of enforcing the law to *ever* violate the Constitution.

      • ... but the constitution is the supreme law of the land, short enough to read completely on your lunch break, and mostly written in clear and concise language...

        Didn't you get the memo? The Federalist Society's view (which virtually everyone on the U.S. right now takes to be Gospel) is that you cannot understand the Constitution this way. Instead you must consult the most obscure writings (published or not) by men who were alive at the time to infer what they, or their colleagues, or friends of their colleagues, may have been thinking when they were writing it. Of course, various conflicting views can be found in this way, but the policy preferences of the Federali

    • by Arker (91948)
      "Am I correct in reading that this means; should the appeal fail; that another appeal claiming that the actions leading up to the search were not legal should be expected? Seems that such an assumption would mean there is another question which could potentially come into play in another review."

      I do not think you are right, though I dont have all the data and could be wrong. But the implication I took was that the appeal neglected to challenge the initial location. Generally speaking, if you dont challenge
    • by sjames (1099)

      If only I had mod points!

      It may be common to complain about the defense attorney getting someone off on a 'technicality' and such, but that's not really what is happening here.

      First, civil rights are not at all a 'technicality'. Getting a warrant is far from a technicality.

      Put simply, a rapist is going to be back on the streets because the police screwed the pooch, hard. Apparently, they've made it a habit. They should be ashamed of themselves.

  • The cops have two choices: (1) Breach the contract and pay damages; or (2) Violate the Constitution.

    The choice is obvious and the excuse is absurd.

    • by Holi (250190)

      Screw that, it is an unenforceable clause in the contract as it requires a party to break the law.

    • You forgot the correct answer:
      (3) Don't purchase hardware or services that you are contractually prohibited from using legally

      • There's another out:
        (4) Use the device to identify the suspect, then use other court-friendly means to build your case.

        From what I've read here, it sounds like the biggest mistake they made was entering the apartment without a warrant. Assuming use of the device was legal (and that's a big if), they're free to figure out where the cell phone is, and thus their prime suspect. If they don't want to admit to court that they use the device, at that point they need to use other means to prove their case agains

        • by Immerman (2627577)

          Another out, yes. But not another *legal* out.

          Any time a cop has to rely on "other court-friendly means to build their case" that's a pretty clear indicator that the original means were believed to be illegal by the officers in question.

  • when do these cops (who are supposed to uphold the law) going to be discharged for breaking the law?
  • "But your hohhhhh-norrrr... We PROMISED to break the law! We pinky swore and EVERYTHING. What are we supposed to DO?"
  • Are these devices even legal? What country?

    I know know that FCC regulations in the U.S. are regularly flouted by the use of similar "range booster" devices that you can get at Fry's, etc. but they are illegally imported and sold.

    I'd imagine there are exceptions for law enforcement, but I'd also imagine that the law enforcement agency has to at least do some sort of registration with the FCC.

    I'm guessing that the manufacturer just doesn't want to get in trouble with the FCC...

  • Commiting acts of espionage on american citizens on american soil combined with signing contracts to violate the constitution, puts them somewhere between the mafia, spies, or domestic terrorists. I hope the guy charged with sexual battery doesnt go free because of something like this, being able to find him by breaking the law doesnt make him less guilty, and it doesnt seem like the evidence against him was a result of breaking the law , only his capture. I hope he gets to stay in jail and those that ha
  • It would seem like the victim can consent to the location tracking of her stolen cell phone. No warrant necessary or certainly an easily obtained one.

    Now if they tracked the perpetrators cell phone, that would require a warrant under SCOTUS rulings I've seen.

    I don't think a civil NDA between the state and a government contractor has any power over a criminal case and it certainly does not override the 4th amendment.

    • by suutar (1860506)
      The warrant question is not for the tracking, it's for entering the house without consent. They didn't want to get a warrant because they didn't want to tell a judge how they found the house. Now the evidence they gained by entering the house is tainted and excluded. The moral is they were frigging stupid to use equipment they couldn't tell a judge about.
    • by Jaime2 (824950)

      It would seem like the victim can consent to the location tracking of her stolen cell phone. No warrant necessary or certainly an easily obtained one.

      Which is why it is so ridiculous that they didn't get one. Illegal actions committed in secret by authorities continues until they eventually screw up. Unfortunately, the climate has changed so that there is almost no down side to getting caught. In the past, agencies treaded very lightly near the edge of what's legal because when you got caught, you were gone. Today, getting caught means very little.

      I would love to see 200 convictions overturned and a big billboard put up with a group photo of fifty murder

    • by Jaysyn (203771)

      But what about the other people they "tracked" when they fired up the stingray? They need a warrant for each one, else it's an illegal search.

      They just let a rapist ( $DEITY knows how many others in the future) get off scott-free.

  • I don't think the cops should be using these things at all.

    What I think should happen is they get a warrant from a judge, then bring in an independent expert to do the trace, such as someone from the FCC or a security officer from the telco.

    Much less chance of "fishing expeditions" and misuse by the cops.

  • by Tokolosh (1256448) on Monday March 03, 2014 @04:04PM (#46389701)

    You can blame the cops, manufacturers, criminals all you want, but the root cause of these shenanigans is that the courts are allowing it to happen.

    When we have arrived at the point where everyone shrugs their shoulders, and says "Slap on the wrist, at most", then we find ourselves in a sad situation.

    The third branch of government is asleep at the wheel, or holding its ankles, depending on your choice of metaphor. But the cue from SCOTUS is, do what you want. They have abdicated their responsibility as a bulwark against the inevitable excesses of the executive and legislative branches.

    Time for some real consequences for contempt of Constitution and sworn oath to uphold same.

  • Ah, it appears Harris is doing beta testing, and handing these out to police departments to test. So, they don't want the cops blabbing to their competitors.

    1. Does Harris have the proper permissions to do this in the wild like this?

    2. It'd be an interesting question whether a civil contract like this can trump disclosure requirements. Seems to me there's no way the cops can make use of the results of testing. Maybe they can test, but if they act on it, they have to violate either the NDA or the law.

  • If they need a warrant for something, but they can't tell the judge because of an NDA then they can't do anything.
    Because the NDA says they can't tell the judge does not mean they get to bypass the Judge, it means they can't get the warrant and they can't do the investigation.

    It means saying to the manufacturer, "We would really like to use your device but we need to get the judges permission, either you modify the NDA or we can't use your device."

    The cops are in the wrong here. The manufacturer is stupid b

  • I am sorry your honor, the reason I did not inform you of my Caymen Island bank account is that when I signed up for it I had to sign a non-disclousure agreement preventing me from telling anyone, even the IRS that I had such an account.
  • I wonder what the logical conclusion of this would be if it's allowed to stand?

    Officer: "I'm sorry, but I can't confirm or deny that my fellow officers and I beat that civilian. Our contract with the dashboard camera company specifically disallows the use of the footage in cases such as this."

    Businessman: "We can't confirm or deny the dumping of that toxic waste in the local playground due to an NDA with We Dump It 4 U, Inc."

    Politician: "I can't confirm or deny going on an all expenses paid trip with Lo

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Monday March 03, 2014 @04:18PM (#46389823)

    The company that wrote the NDA should get charged with conspiracy to commit perjury, right? Maybe that's not the exact legal term, but it definitely ought to be illegal to write a contract requiring one party to commit a crime.

  • If I'm hiding in a dark alley do the police need a court order to use a flashlight? How is this any different?
  • And they are lying in this instance. No matter what is in the NDA, Law supersedes anything that a sleazeball lawyer writes. So either the cops are incredibly stupid, or they are corrupt as hell.

    Sadly, I think it's a mixture of both.

  • ...whenever it's convenient.
  • readers see the obvious logical fallacy, I hope the legal system views it with the same degree of clarity.

  • by PPH (736903) on Monday March 03, 2014 @05:38PM (#46390647)

    I don't think so. Like the summary says: It tricks a cell phone into thinking that it is the closest tower. So, to set up an intercept, you already have to know where the subject is. And get in close. The Stingray (and other femtocell hacks) are used to intercept the content of calls and texts.

    Cops not able to reveal their tracking capabilities? <cough>Bullshit</cough> Get a scanner, listen to the local police investigations unit tracking someone. They know where a cell phone is and aren't shy about babbling about pings off towers, data feeds from the telecom and the precision with which they can locate a subject. If a judge really didn't want to be lied to, they call the cops out on their crap. Judges are colluding with the cops to keep the Stingray's actual function out of the public record.

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