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Government The Courts Privacy Security United States Hardware Technology

Bipartisan Bill Seeks Warrants For Police Use of 'Stingray' Cell Trackers (usatoday.com) 113

Tulsa_Time quotes a report from USA Today: A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday requiring police agencies to get a search warrant before they can deploy powerful cellphone surveillance technology known as "stingrays" that sweep up information about the movements of innocent Americans while tracking suspected criminals. "Owning a smartphone or fitness tracker shouldn't give the government a blank check to track your movements," said Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee who introduced the bill with Reps. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and John Conyers, D-Mich. "Law enforcement should be able to use GPS data, but they need to get a warrant. This bill sets out clear rules to make sure our laws keep up with the times." The legislation introduced Wednesday, called the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act, would require a warrant for all domestic law enforcement agencies to track the location and movements of individual Americans through GPS technology without their knowledge. It also aims to combat high-tech stalking by creating criminal penalties for secretly using an electronic device to track someone's movements.
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Bipartisan Bill Seeks Warrants For Police Use of 'Stingray' Cell Trackers

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    every LEO has a favorite judge on speed-dial and can get pretty much any warrant signed he/she wishes...
    • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @10:59PM (#53877869)

      every LEO has a favorite judge on speed-dial and can get pretty much any warrant signed he/she wishes...

      Warrants are recorded, and eventually become public. So that is still a big improvement over cops spying on citizens with no accountability. Warrants are also required to specify the persons that can be monitored, and the duration. They cannot be issued for broad surveillance or fishing expeditions.

      Please contact your congressperson and senator and ask them to support this legislation.

  • Techies, like everyday tech-minded people, need to completely and fully understand that Republicans are their enemies, by policy.

    Almost completely down the line, any policy involving tech will have the Republicans pushing policies that are the worst.

    Net Neutrality? It's the GOP who want to destroy it.

    DRM of all kinds, always Republicans.

    It goes on and on.

    Why is it so important to grasp this fact? Why am I even posting this?

    Because so many techies still support Republicans or 'Libertarians'...

    • And yet it was the Dems that let ICANN go Public Domain...
    • Honestly very few politicians, regardless of what side they sit in, are on the side of tech. Democrats may be better on some issues, but by and large they're morons when it comes to Tech too.

      What we really need is for everyone to write their critters to inform them about the issues that are important to them. We need a Neil deGrasse Tyson equivalent for tech, someone who can straddle the line between entertainment and education to keep the public informed and fight for what's sane.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mabu ( 178417 )

        Al Gore led the way in the funding initiative that created the Internet.

        Politicians are only as attentive as the people who lobby them.

        It boggles me how people seem to think their politicians are mind readers and need to magically understand their priorities. You do realize they aren't monitoring your Facebook feed or paying any attention to the retarded petitions you fill out? If you want your politicians to represent your priorities, call them. Complaining that they don't represent your interests when

        • Al Gore led the way in the funding initiative that created the Internet.

          WTF Did I miss your sarcasm tag?
          You really believe the Al Gore/Internet BS?
          He was only 20 when the ARPANET was beginning.
          Highly doubtful he had anything to do with the creation of the internet.

          • by mmell ( 832646 )
            (from Wikipedia)

            The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is an agency of the U.S. Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military.

            Now, what the military needs with all that porn and online casinos is beyond me.

            • So we both agree that Al Gore had nothing to do with the funding or research that created the internet.

          • by suutar ( 1860506 )

            "internet" != ARPANET. http://amsterdam.nettime.org/L... [nettime.org] indicates that Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn agree with Gore.

        • " If you want your politicians to represent your priorities, call them."

          No. Vote them out. And their replacements, until they 'get the message'. Yes, this means voting for a candidate other than the one your preferred political party presents.

          See what I did there?

        • Saying that Gore created the internet is like saying that venture capitalists and lobbyists create the things they support.

    • by sydbarrett74 ( 74307 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (47tterrabdys)> on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @09:55PM (#53877607)
      I think that as more 'digital natives' run for political office, this will improve. In the Senate at least, many of the members are older and have probably never sent an email in their lives. As those people die off and get replaced, people who are more comfortable with modern technology will fill the vacancies. I doubt Orrin Hatch, for example, knows how to operate anything more complicated than an IBM Selectric -- even then, he'd have some gal type up his documents and fetch his coffee for him, too.
      • I think that as more 'digital natives' run for political office, this will improve. In the Senate at least, many of the members are older and have probably never sent an email in their lives. As those people die off and get replaced, people who are more comfortable with modern technology will fill the vacancies. I doubt Orrin Hatch, for example, knows how to operate anything more complicated than an IBM Selectric -- even then, he'd have some gal type up his documents and fetch his coffee for him, too.

        A lack of understanding technology is hardly a valid excuse, given the age of the laws they are in charge of upholding and protecting.

        There was nothing in the Constitution or Bill of Rights about an IBM Selectric, and any 80-year old dinosaur fully understands the words "warrantless mass surveillance" no matter what decade you say them in. If they don't, then they're not fit to serve.

        • Right. But for some reason, older politicians view 'on the Internet' as some exotic and alien phenomenon. They think that because emails are sent 'over the Intertubes' that they don't deserve the same protections that a letter written longhand and sent via the USPS does. Younger people who grew up around these modern technologies experience them as daily realities, and therefore no different from older forms of communication. That was my point.
    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @10:02PM (#53877641) Journal

      DMCA: Clinton
      CDA: Clinton
      COPA: Clinton
      DRM (criminalize breaking it): Clinton
      IDIOT: globaljustin

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        With regard to net neutrality the more polite way to put it is. Net neutrality favours 99.99 percent of business, not just numbers but also revenue. Dropping net neutrality only favours 0.01 percent of business, so that 0.01% tried to sneak in by buying off politicians, however that moment seems to have past as net admins of those 99.99% of business have informed management what a dangerous move that would be.

        Both the Republicans and the Democrats got gobbled up by the Corporate Party but both the Republic

      • by mabu ( 178417 )

        Not one of those bills were authored by democrats.

        • Before posting some idea that came from your ass, look it up.

        • Not one of those bills were authored by democrats.

          I tried to say the same thing.

          It's really important that people be able to understand this concept.

        • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

          Not one of those bills were authored by democrats.

          Batshit irrelevant. NAFTA didn't start out as Democratic legislation, either - but Democrats own it, as it was a Democratic president who fought for it and brought enough party support to pass it.

      • DMCA: Clinton
        CDA: Clinton
        COPA: Clinton
        DRM (criminalize breaking it): Clinton

        did any Republicans lead the charge against these?

        NO

        Republicans were falling over themselves to make the rules worse than what was enacted!

        Go down the line, the Republican's policy was always much more draconian and foolish than what Democrats were proposing.

        Just because a Democrat was president doesn't mean the Democrats weren't trying to force the policy to be better. It doesn't change either party's position on policy.

        Look at the

        • by OhPlz ( 168413 )

          Who killed the TPP?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Techies, like everyday tech-minded people, need to completely and fully understand that Republicans are their enemies, by policy.

      Either you are very young, or you have a very short memory. Why would think the democrats are any better? [washingtonpost.com]

      • by mabu ( 178417 )

        The exception does not prove the rule.

        In the most general of senses, the Democratic party is much more responsive to the will of the electorate. The Republicans, on the other hand, tend to get in office and declare they have a mandate and no longer listen to what the people want.

        • No, it is not the exception. It is systematic. Democrats did indeed impose many anti-tech rules. The is no reason to stand up for them.

          Democratic party is much more responsive to the will of the electorate.

          I think you're in the wrong forum. I don't know where you come up with such nonsense.

          • No, it is not the exception. It is systematic. Democrats did indeed impose many anti-tech rules. The is no reason to stand up for them.

            Other than being a partisan HACK, that is...

            Only when people look out for what is best for them despite party lines, and get out of this "us vs. them" mindset, will progress ever be made -- i.e., never. In fact, that's what is being counted on.

        • So when the DMCA legislation was pending and the will of the people was against it becoming law, which party's President signed it?
          It was the Democratic President Clinton who signed it.
          Where do the Democrats get a bunch of their funding?? Hollywood.
          Who currently heads the MPAA?
          Christopher J. Dodd (D) Conn
          Which party's President was pushing the TPP?
          Which party's President killed the TPP?
          Whatever Hollywood wants the Democrats give them.
          I'm not saying the Republicans are angels, just pointing out that both par

        • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

          In the most general of senses, the Democratic party is much more responsive to the will of the electorate.

          Laughable. Having a Public Option on health insurance was the most popular policy in recent memory - more popular than Lilly Ledbetter, supported by Republican voters when explained what it would actually do as opposed to the death panel crap - while telecom immunity was overwhelmingly opposed by leftists, liberals and other conservatives.

          Democrats killed the former while supporting the latter.

    • by mabu ( 178417 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @10:22PM (#53877721)

      And let's dispense with this "bipartisan bill" bullshit.

      This bill was authored by Democrats, and one republican helped sponsor it. That does not make it a "bipartisan effort" in any real sense of the word.

      • Mabu, I see that you are writing. Using proper English, even, capitalizing most of the proper names you use.

        I assume you didn't come out of the womb writing Slashdot posts, you learned how to write. That proves to me that you are capable of learning new things. You can probably make a guess about something, then when you find out differently, you've learned. Your first guess was incorrect, you learn something, cool. You're smarter afterwards.

        Multiple people have pointed out to you that your first guess was

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Oh Mabu... Silly, silly Mabu.

        https://www.congress.gov/bill/... [congress.gov]

        IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
        June 14, 2011

        Mr. Chaffetz (for himself and Mr. Goodlatte) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Select Committee on Intelligence (Permanent Select), for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

        The Senate bill, S.1212, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Wyden a day later.

        Here's a couple of snippets from each bill. Guess which one belongs to which bill.

        (2) WARRANT.â"A governmental entity may intercept geolocation information or require the disclosure by a provider of a covered service of geolocation information only pursuant to a warrant issued using the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (or, in the case of a State court, issued using State warrant procedures) by a court of competent jurisdiction, or as otherwise provided in this chapter or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.).

        (2) WARRANT.â"A governmental entity may intercept geolocation information or require the disclosure by a provider of covered services of geolocation information only pursuant to a warrant issued using the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure (or, in the case of a State court, issued using State warrant procedures) by a court of competent jurisdiction, or as otherwise provided in this chapter or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (50 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.).

        And you stupidly thought that this bill was written just this year.

      • by nehumanuscrede ( 624750 ) on Thursday February 16, 2017 @09:20AM (#53879185)

        Regardless of it being bipartisan or not, it is a bill that is long overdue.

        If Law Enforcement is allowed to have such toys as these, then some oversight will be necessary to ensure they don't abuse them. Based on how judges are tossing out evidence when LE lies about using them ( at the behest of the FBI and their NDA ), one would think that they would welcome the rule. They'll complain about how much harder the job is, red tape, etc. but. . . .

        Evidence tends to stick better when you follow the proper ( and legal ) procedures in procuring it.

      • And let's dispense with this "bipartisan bill" bullshit.

        This bill was authored by Democrats, and one republican helped sponsor it. That does not make it a "bipartisan effort" in any real sense of the word.

        Just so you know, you're actually wrong...though I wouldn't think that'll stop you from your nonsensical crusade.

        (Credit an AC who's not being upvoted for whatever reason):
        https://www.congress.gov/bill/... [congress.gov]

        IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
        June 14, 2011

        Mr. Chaffetz (for himself and Mr. Goodlatte) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, and in addition to the Select Committee on Intelligence (Permanent Select), for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned

        The Senate bill, S.1212, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Wyden a day later -- basically a carbon copy of the House bill. Also:
        https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/... [gpo.gov]

        HEARING BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIME, TERRORISM, AND HOMELAND SECURITY OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS SECOND SESSION ON H.R. 2168 ...
        "Mr. Sensenbrenner. Thank you very much, and I want to thank
        all of the witnesses for making their statements within the
        time limit, that is not what usually happens around here. The
        Chair will defer asking questions and will begin by recognizing
        the author of this bill, the gentleman from Utah, Mr. Chaffetz.'

    • Techies, like everyday tech-minded people, need to completely and fully understand that Republicans are their enemies, by policy.

      Not in all cases, TPP is dead because of a Republican.

      Almost completely down the line, any policy involving tech will have the Republicans pushing policies that are the worst.

      I saw a number of policies from the Obama administration that were against the electorate and our will.

      Net Neutrality? It's the GOP who want to destroy it.

      So far the new FCC chief, Ajit Pai, hasn't surprised me in his actions so far, complete opposite of Wheeler. Maybe he is going to surprise everyone but I doubt it.

      DRM of all kinds, always Republicans.

      Who signed the DMCA?
      Clinton, a Democrat, and he did so against what the electorate wanted.
      Christopher J. Dodd (D) Conn is the head of the MPAA.

    • by mmell ( 832646 )
      Sorry, dude - you went off course.

      Politicians are a techie's natural enemy. Have you noticed that there only ever been a very few poor Presidents, Congressmen or Supreme Court justices? And none of them stayed that way once they assumed political office. So . . .

      DRM - Democrats

      Kill Net Neutrality - Republicans

      It all boils down to whose pocket a given politician is in at any given time.

    • Interesting that you'd choose to attack Republicans in an article about a good tech bill getting bipartisan support.
  • Bi today (Score:1, Offtopic)

    Gay tomorrow
  • by Plus1Entropy ( 4481723 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @09:38PM (#53877531)

    This bill sets out clear rules to make sure our laws keep up with the times.

    Glad to hear we're implementing that new-fangled 4th amendment I keep hearing about.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      "New FOIA Documents Confirm FBI Used Dirtboxes on Planes Without Any Policies or Legal Guidance"
      https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/... [eff.org]
      "New Senate Bill Would Require Warrants for Federal Aerial Surveillance"
      https://theintercept.com/2015/... [theintercept.com]
      Lots of data is been sorted :)
      ".. fake cell phone tower devices that can pull a suspect’s cell phone data and thereby determine ... location within 10 feet."
    • Re:Is it 1792? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @11:03PM (#53877885)

      Glad to hear we're implementing that new-fangled 4th amendment I keep hearing about.

      If only. It isn't possible to use a Stingray constitutionally, period. Here's the 4th Amendment, in its entirety:

      Amendment IV

      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.

      A Stingray sucks up data for hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of people if run in a metro area, and there is no warrant for that. A warrant must "particularly [describe] the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized" and every court in the land has ruled time and time again that "I want to seize something from 100 people" is not in any way "particular" enough, let alone "I want to seize something from 10,000 people".

      The proposed law is unconstitutional, attempting to provide legal cover for unconstitutional activities. The only constitutional warrant names an individual or individual device or a very small group thereof and is issued to the phone company. The government does not get to pretend to be the phone company, and Hoover up the data for thousands of people at a time.[1]

      I would question whether or not the current Supreme Court would uphold the Constitution and strike down this law if it passes, but it won't come before this court. The legal gyrations to prevent a challenge of the Stingrays with standing will continue indefinitely. We know this because the same stonewalling is already happening with respect to NSA spying on the Internet. Add to that the length of time required to run through the appeals process and actually reach the Supreme Court, and I doubt either Kennedy or Ginsberg will still be alive if and when that case finally gets to the Court.

      Unless we are exceedingly fortunate, and this unconstitutional bill becomes law and suckers some prosecuting attorney into letting a Stingray-based case that is being challenged go forward, we're probably in for a decades of unconstitutional activity.

      Not that it will be the first time...

      ----
      [1] No apologies for the pun. It was too appropriate.

      • Look, I'm really just trying to cling to anything remotely positive coming out of Washington. Thanks for ruining this one for me.

        The pun I don't mind at all.

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      "Glad to hear we're implementing that new-fangled 4th amendment I keep hearing about."

      Not to mention those even newer rules which don't allow RF transmissions on cellular frequencies without a license.
  • Not only should convictions based on stingray data be tossed, legal fees should be reimbursed. There is no doubt these things were illegal, make the assholes who used them (under an NDA no less) pay for it.

    / kinda sucks to be a Harris stockholder at the moment
    // really sucks to be a law enforcement agency (HA!) that used the damned things
    /// I'm old. I hope I live long enough to see 1984 fail
    //// not holding my breath
    ///// /. formatting sucks balls. Why should I have to do a break line when a CRLF
    • ///// /. formatting sucks balls. Why should I have to do a break line when a CRLF would do?

      Change your prefs so your default posting setting is "Plain Old Text" instead of "HTML Formatted." The prefs interface itself does suck balls, your changes may or may not save.

      • What really sucks, is that "options" below this edit box, doesn't actually give you options for formatting of THIS post, instead you get a SlimBox to change your global-prefs.
  • Does this mean ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Wednesday February 15, 2017 @10:13PM (#53877683)

    ... that they can't use imsi catchers [wikipedia.org]? Or that they'll need a warrant to make use of the data in court? Because if it's the latter, cops will just go on using them. And then do a little parallel construction to explain just how they managed to show up at the right time and place.

  • What's the point of adding more laws when there's no enforcement? Especially when you're curtailing government power, when government agencies already shit all over the laws in place to restrain them without punishment?

  • It was just after the bricks went out of style - one of the new, "compact" candy-bar jobs. A Motorola device, IIRC. It required support from the communicating tower and backing LL network, which I only ever found in one place in Minneapolis MN (i.e., it required support from the cellular provider). It also played "number guess" and "snake", and something called SMS.

    What ever happened to that encryption idea, I wonder?

  • It also aims to combat high-tech stalking by creating criminal penalties for secretly using an electronic device to track someone's movements.

    I look forward to app store vendors being carted off to jail en masse.

  • One way to look at it is the pure reading of the 4th amendment. There's no "there" there about "third party rules" and "All writs act" in it. So at least those "exceptions" should require a warrant, but they don't get one in many cases. (Think NSA letters)

    There's also nothing about allowing LEO to follow your every move without a warrant. Yet in many cases they don't bother. (Think cell phone tracking, power meter watching, thermal imaging in addition to plain old gum shoe detective work.)

    I can't see how pa

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Problem is the punishment needs to fit their crime.
      Right now, they do this, nothing happens. They're breaking laws over their knees, they're violating the constitution, and the worse they get is "oh, that's not nice, you shouldn't do that anymore".

      Without harsh consequences, they'll just keep flaying our rights off us. Actual punishment; not some slap on the wrist or being forced to transfer to a different precinct.

      At the very least everyone involved in running these operations needs to be shipped off to gi

  • Defective by Design? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Thursday February 16, 2017 @02:26AM (#53878401)
    I appreciate that this comment is asking that we consider the technical equivalent of "Puuting the Genie Back in the Bottle", but it seems to me that the fundamental issue with the current Stingray technology happens to be the "bulk data capture" nature of the way that it operates...

    In one sense this is unavoidable - when you have a piece of technology that imitates a cellphone tower by giving the strongest local signal, it will sweep up multiple handsets each time it is activated.

    On the other hand, would it be possible for a judge to declare that the *operator interface* to the stingray device must by law force the operator to enter the particulars of a specific mobile phone handset, thereby preventing the stingray operator for conducting blanket surveillance?

    Quite obviously, I know nothing about the inner workings of stingray technology, but it is clear to me that the principle by which it operates is to deem that every cell phone user within range is guilty of a crime - since the technology indiscriminately targets them.

    If one motorist breaks the speed limit on a particular road at a particular time, a Law Enforcement Officer is not entitled to stop every vehicle on the road and take details of the driver and their passengers... similarly there should be limits on what that same officer can do when tracking a suspected criminal using stingray technology.

    As technologists we know that it would be possible to develop a stingray device that had to be pre-programmed with a cell phone ID before it could be activated. We know that it would also be possible to require that device to have a legally tamper-proof log, to require that to have a license to operate (it is a wireless device that surely needs FCC approval to be used) that there would be supervisory controls that could be enforce.

    Law enforcement are quick to claim that the rapid advancement of technology is such that they need extra powers in order to be able to keep pace with the criminals in society. Well, OK, but that should not be grounds for permitting those same officers to bend or break the law in the process. That places the Law Enforcement Agencies in the same category as criminals: as far as honest citizens are concerned that makes LEOs just as dangerous, or perhaps even more so, since they have the implied authority of the state backing them up...

    The Enforcement of the law must itself be legal, or it undermines any and all claims of authority it may have over the citizenry it was designed to protect.
    • ...Quite obviously, I know nothing about the inner workings of stingray technology, but it is clear to me that the principle by which it operates is to deem that every cell phone user within range is guilty of a crime - since the technology indiscriminately targets them.

      The way it operates is by design, and the electronic system itself is not responsible for defining guilt; our society does that.

      ...As technologists we know that it would be possible to develop a stingray device that had to be pre-programmed with a cell phone ID before it could be activated. We know that it would also be possible to require that device to have a legally tamper-proof log, to require that to have a license to operate (it is a wireless device that surely needs FCC approval to be used) that there would be supervisory controls that could be enforce.

      As technologists and citizens who wish for our Rights to be upheld by all, we know all of this is possible. The problem is someone decided to design this device to circumvent a lot of those protections. Personally, I really don't feel this was an accidental design by any means. Someone designed ISMI catchers to operate in the way that they do, as simple filters to mandate the ca

  • " would require a warrant for all domestic law enforcement agencies to track the location and movements of individual Americans through GPS technology without their knowledge. It also aims to combat high-tech stalking by creating criminal penalties for secretly using an electronic device to track someone.."

    Goody. Make sure those penalties apply to the cops too, per person tracked without a warrant.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I just read this bill and it is shocking. Absolutely shocking. The bill focuses mainly on imposing criminal penalties on citizens for tracking another person without their knowledge.

    If this is the same GPS Act that filed in congress the last time it was introduced, it also has so many exemptions for law enforcement that even the "requirement" for a warrant is easily circumvented:

    "Makes specified exceptions for interceptions involving: (1) information acquired by a provider of a covered service (electronic c

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