Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Cellphones Communications Crime

San Bernardino Sheriff Has Used Stingray Over 300 Times With No Warrant 104

An anonymous reader writes: After a records request by Ars, the sheriff in San Bernardino County (SBSD) sent an example of a template for a "pen register and trap and trace order" application. The county attorneys claim what they sent was a warrant application template, even though it is not. The application cites no legal authority on which to base the request. "This is astonishing because it suggests the absence of legal authorization (because if there were clear legal authorization you can bet the government would be citing it)," Fred Cate, a law professor at Indiana University, told Ars. "Alternatively, it might suggest that the government just doesn't care about legal authorization. Either interpretation is profoundly troubling," he added. Further documents reveal that the agency has used a Stingray 303 times between January 1, 2014 and May 7, 2015.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

San Bernardino Sheriff Has Used Stingray Over 300 Times With No Warrant

Comments Filter:
  • Are they LEOs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JonathanR ( 852748 ) on Monday May 25, 2015 @04:15AM (#49767099)

    Is an apparent law enforcement officer (or group thereof) who is conducting their work illegally, really a law enforcement officer?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hognoxious ( 631665 )

      They Enforce, they don't Obey. That would just be silly, because it would spell LOO, which is limey-talk for a toilet.

      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

        Which is pretty much what the bulk of american Police are.

        Moron toilets that just blindly do whatever they are told. Most dont have the IQ to make a decision on their own.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They ARE the LAW.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Is an apparent law enforcement officer (or group thereof) who is conducting their work illegally, really a law enforcement officer?

      Well, they're *enforcing* the law (against you). Their methods are just illegal (to them).

      So technically still correct - they're enforcing the law.

      Now, if you want to talk about upholding the law...

  • That's all.

  • I always assumed that the exception to anti-wiretapping laws for pen registers was some kind of case law.

    But not only is 18 USC 3121 is a specific law about pen registers, looking at 18 USC 3127 and the definitions that are incorporated from 18 USC 2510 , it's clearly intended to include radio communications.

    For radio that's "readily accessible to the general public" the interception and disclosure rules have an exception, as you might expect, but no sign of that sort of thing in this pen register law.

    Cool.

    • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Monday May 25, 2015 @05:07AM (#49767245)
      Note that Stingrays aren't just radio receivers. They mimic cell towers, and are also transmitters. They transmit on spectrum which belongs to the cell carriers, and they do so without a license or warrant. That's illegal.

      Also, cell frequencies aren't "readily accessible to the general public" - Congress has passed laws which specifically prohibit the public from accessing those frequencies and prohibits the manufacture of general purpose radios (scanners) which can receive them.
      • by Marful ( 861873 ) on Monday May 25, 2015 @05:27AM (#49767297)
        In addition to everything you've said, they are also require an Unauthorized Access to a Computer Device which is a federal crime (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act), as pushing data and handshaking with the mobile device is part of the pairing process between a mobile device and a cell tower.
        • by umghhh ( 965931 )
          So if the perpetrators are still walking free that means ????
          • So if the perpetrators are still walking free that means ????

            That it's business as usual for the LEO.

        • by Nethead ( 1563 )

          18USC1029 would come into play too, just guessing.

        • There are many laws created so law enforcement can stick it to people they don't like, while letting everyone else skip by.

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Monday May 25, 2015 @07:23AM (#49767547) Journal

      I always assumed that the exception to anti-wiretapping laws for pen registers was some kind of case law.

      I speaking from readings of Australian law as it seems we are on the leading edge of destroying the freedom and point of western democracies, however my understanding of the parallel US Act is that this right would have been repealed in the Patriot Act or another act shortly after that one. Specifically US law should now allow for wire-taps/voice-mail/sms and email surveillance without an 'interception warrant' regardless of any case law before 2001. I don't know for sure, but I'd be very surprised if US law doesn't allow the same. Of course it was only meant for Intelligence agencies to us against terrorist operations.

      It seems because we don't have a bill of rights like the US or UK the laws get framed here, tested, passed and then the US/UK take out the unconstitutional bits and pass that. I note that the fucked laws passed here because the population are largely apathetic, then they seem to make it to the US/UK lawmakers roughly a year later.

    • by wkk2 ( 808881 )

      Maybe it's time for the operators to be licensed with mandatory education (it is a transmitter after all). The device shouldn't operate unless the operator enters their license number and the court document number authorizing the interception. A third party should audit the operational log.

      • by Agripa ( 139780 )

        Since they cannot be trusted to obey the law, additional legal requirements are irrelevant.

        The telecommunication companies are hardy going to implement secure encryption and authentication so it would be better to use end-to-end encryption and authentication controlled by the users. That screws over all lawful interception but if this happens, law enforcement has nobody to blame but themselves for not abiding by the law. End-to-end encryption would also enforce *only* being able to capture true metadata.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Looking at the activities of the police and security organs in the US from abroad, one gets the feeling that US is a typical fascistic country.

    Basically in fascism the state works for the big businesses, the security services ignore laws they do not want to follow and there is commonly widespread spying on the population.

    All those seem to be true at least to some degree, it is hard to judge how far gone/wide spread it is, but seems true nevertheless.

    Points of note:
    At least NSA and local police spying on the

  • Short version ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday May 25, 2015 @06:34AM (#49767425) Homepage

    "Alternatively, it might suggest that the government just doesn't care about legal authorization."

    Either the company who sells this, or the agencies using this, have convinced themselves they live in a special area of law in which reality is as they have decided it to be.

    They do not care if other people say they have no legal basis for this, they either don't care, or believe they do have a legal basis for this.

    Which basically means law enforcement is in the hands of a bunch of idiots who don't know or care the law.

    American law enforcement have become like the police in a banana republic ... they'll do whatever the hell they wish, and if you don't like it, they'll probably try to find some way to abuse the law against you.

    But make no mistake about it, these people aren't going to obey the law unless until they find themselves under threat of being in a cell themselves. And then they'll just pretend to obey the law.

    Law enforcement now believes they can do anything they want to achieve their ends. Because they're idiots who don't know or care about the law.

    • They should be in jail then. If I got caught running something like a stingray without any legal authority, I'd expect to not pass go or collect my $200. If that's never a concern for them, then this behavior should be expected.
    • Re:Short version ... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Monday May 25, 2015 @06:56AM (#49767487) Journal
      Law enforcement is, first and foremost, a job not unlike the one you and I do. It is filled with employees of varying degrees of competence and honor.

      From the moment the young LEO is put into a cruiser to enforce traffic laws he himself doesn't have to obey, there is an expectation of the "rules do not apply to me."

      This is the way of it. Thanks to the FOIA, conscientious questioners of authority like Ars, and the Courts, we are not beholden to live in a police state unless we choose to sit around and accept it. Legislation to restrict the use of these Stinkrays has already been employed in Washington State and a bill is brewing in California.

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      But make no mistake about it, these people aren't going to obey the law unless until they find themselves under threat of being in a cell themselves. And then they'll just pretend to obey the law.

      No, they won't. What they will do is prosecute the people who expose them under new anti-whistle blower provisions in the law. Then put those people in jail for daring to defend their country from domestic enemies spreading corruption through the system. If people can't realise the benefits of living with the rule of law, knowing that it applies to everyone, then eventually no one respects the law.

      Law enforcement now believes they can do anything they want to achieve their ends. Because they're idiots who don't know or care about the law.

      The people rolling out these laws aren't idiots. They know exactly what they are doing and what they want to ac

    • by doug141 ( 863552 )

      "Law enforcement now believes they can do anything they want to achieve their ends. Because they're idiots who don't know or care about the law.

      Not because they are idiots, but because they are right-wing authoritarians. Here's a free E-Book all about their thinking. You will be amazed at the part where the professor wondered if their predilection for forming posses to round up "enemies of the state" had any limits, so he asked them if they would round up each other, and most still said yes! http://members.shaw.ca/jeanalt... [members.shaw.ca]

    • Which basically means law enforcement is in the hands of a bunch of idiots who don't know or care the law.

      The high-end cops, the chiefs and sergeants and whatnot, know the law well enough to know they're breaking it. The low-end beat cops know fuck-all about the law, this has been shown again and again. It's what happens when you only need a couple of years of community college and a pat on the ass to become a cop.

      But make no mistake about it, these people aren't going to obey the law unless until they find themselves under threat of being in a cell themselves. And then they'll just pretend to obey the law.

      And that's why every cop needs a camera on all the time, and they should never ever be taken at their word. If there's no video evidence of what they're saying, then they should be assumed to be lying

    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      They do not care if other people say they have no legal basis for this, they either don't care, or believe they do have a legal basis for this.

      There is basically no way to challenge it so it is legal. If you are innocent, then the court enforced 4th amendment remedy of exclusion of evidence does not apply. If you are charged with a crime, then parallel construction prevents you from challenging the evidence.

  • "Alternatively, it might suggest that the government just doesn't care about legal authorization."

    As a resident of San Bernardino county (for 15+ years) who has personally known many members of the Sheriff's Department, I'd suggest that this is indeed the case. This county is the largest in the nation and has population widely dispersed throughout a vast majority of it's area, making deployment difficult. The attitude I saw most prevalent was one of "I don't care, just get it done". A perceived relative la

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They do, however, and more often then not, get the job done.

      As documented here [ktla.com]

      • Which points out a basic flaw of the system: taxpayers are punished for the law enforcement officer's failure to follow the rules, and the law enforcement officers themselves are apparently not held accountable for their own actions. Granted, people would be reluctant to work as police if they could be held personally responsible for any damage they cause, but couldn't we strike a better balance? Doctors are required to pay exorbitant sums for insurance to cover their mistakes, but police are bailed out by
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday May 25, 2015 @08:02AM (#49767669) Homepage

    Set up a video camera and he get's tazed once for every time he violated the law. This video is posted to youtube.

    Scumbag cops like that dont care about fines, They need to be tazed in the scrotum. THAT they will understand.

    • by phorm ( 591458 )

      Honestly, it's amusing to think about this but not likely to happen. What should happen, legally, is he should either be dismissed from his position, charged, or both.
      Unfortunately this is about as likely to occur as said testicle-tasing.

  • everywhere on the internet you see young people bemoaning the constant breaches of civil rights by our government officials and police.
    You don't really understand what is going here. Aren't you lucky to have me to explain it to you?
    Look, all these things with civil rights and warrants and etc are really more or less an outgrowth of the civil rights era and the overclass educated culture that gave rise to that civil rights era.
    And, please, do not lecture me on the constitution. I am a lawyer. I know al
  • Smith v. Maryland (Score:4, Informative)

    by russotto ( 537200 ) on Monday May 25, 2015 @09:57AM (#49768211) Journal

    According to Smith v. Maryland, Law enforcement doesn't need a warrant for pen registers, because people have no expectation of privacy in the numbers they called. That one decision has led to the entire NSA metadata collection, as well as unrestrained use of Stingrays and similar devices. Remember that next time someone sneers at the slippery slope.

    • According to Smith v. Maryland, Law enforcement doesn't need a warrant for pen registers, because people have no expectation of privacy in the numbers they called. That one decision has led to the entire NSA metadata collection, as well as unrestrained use of Stingrays and similar devices. Remember that next time someone sneers at the slippery slope.

      I'm sneering at your "slippery slope"

      You're saying case law is a slippery slope, which is asinine because a judge's job is to interpret the law that legislators write. It's not to make you happy, and that's why you don't elect them. In this case, we're talking about Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution - it doesn't do what you want it to.

      If you don't like that, then man up and talk to your legislators and get new laws or amendments passed, or at least acknowledge that's what's needed. Laws

  • This is astonishing because it suggests the absence
    of legal authorization (because if there were clear legal authorization
    you can bet the government would be citing it),"

    Law enforcement can still conduct an illegal search to further their investigation. They cannot use evidence in court that they directly discovered as a result of the search; However, they can still use the information to help develop their investigation, And once they've found what they think is the truth, they will be able to lev

    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      Law enforcement can still conduct an illegal search to further their investigation. They cannot use evidence in court that they directly discovered as a result of the search; However, they can still use the information to help develop their investigation, And once they've found what they think is the truth, they will be able to leverage a practice called parallel construction [wikipedia.org] to develop their case: without needing to make their illegal search or evidence that came from their search part of

Good salesmen and good repairmen will never go hungry. -- R.E. Schenk

Working...