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Canada Privacy Cellphones Security The Courts

Calgary Police Cellphone Surveillance Device Must Remain Top Secret, Judge Rules (www.cbc.ca) 89

Freshly Exhumed writes from a report via CBC.ca: To protect police investigative techniques that may or may not have been used in a Calgary Police Service investigation, their controversial cellphone surveillance device will remain so secretive not even the make and model can be released to the public, according to a court ruling released Monday. The MDI (Mobile Device Identifier) technology -- colloquially called a StingRay after Harris Corporation's IMSI device, which mimics cell towers and intercepts data from nearby phones -- is controversial in part because in at least one Canadian case, prosecutors have taken watered down plea deals rather than disclose information related to the device.
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Calgary Police Cellphone Surveillance Device Must Remain Top Secret, Judge Rules

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  • Canadians (Score:4, Funny)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Monday October 30, 2017 @07:11PM (#55460667) Homepage Journal
    They are such fascists. Why can't they be more enlightened like us Americans?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think some engineering students at UC should make a few cell phone listening devices and do a demonstration in front of the Police station: https://www.rtl-sdr.com/receiving-decoding-decrypting-gsm-signals-rtl-sdr/

      • I think some engineering students at UC should make a few cell phone listening devices

        Cell phone technology isn't very secure per se. For big brains used to work on radio devices, building a listening system wouldn't be that much difficult.
        The only way to be sure that your communication remains secure, is to use end-to-end encryption.
        The only way to keep some level of anonymity is to add onion routing to the equations (but due to high latency, you're then limited to texting).

        and do a demonstration in front of the Police station: https://www.rtl-sdr.com/receiv... [rtl-sdr.com]

        ...the main problem is that the frequencies used by smartphone aren't public (unlike your good old friend 2.4 Ghz used

        • Nothing limits you to texting, the bandwidth is okay, heck you might even be able to do video chat. High latency just means you don't have the "instantaneous" transmission most people are accustomed to with phones. But the delay probably isn't even as bad as, for example, talking to astronauts orbiting the moon (2.6 second round-trip lag)

  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Monday October 30, 2017 @07:17PM (#55460695)
    that's where the lawyer makes it worth the fee.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 30, 2017 @07:24PM (#55460731)

    So if I'm in law enforcement in Canada, I could say I have a magic device that detects corruption, point fingers, and then people just have to deal with it?

    Meanwhile in the USA people are able to scrutinize breathalyzers and challenge their validity in court?

    I'd say wtf are you doing Canada?

    • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Monday October 30, 2017 @07:39PM (#55460803)

      So if I'm in law enforcement in Canada, I could say I have a magic device that detects corruption, point fingers, and then people just have to deal with it?

      Probably not: [theguardian.com]:

      The Royal Mounted Police in Canada decided against an order when they asked how it worked and McCormick replied: "It just works."

      • So your point is only that not all the police services in Canada use the device? That doesn't even try to refute the claim. Weak.

    • by i286NiNJA ( 2558547 ) on Monday October 30, 2017 @07:42PM (#55460811)

      Well we're able to do that here because the 6th amendment of the bill of rights, specifically the right to face and question your accuser in court. Canada has similar laws but I believe there is no mention of a right to face your accuser.

      The truly terrifying thing is that the bill of rights was somewhat controversial at the time that it was written because it's opponents felt that all the rights it bestowed should be common sense and by having them enumerated so specifically it may cause people to believe they have no other rights.

      • by Scutter ( 18425 )

        And they were mostly right. Many people don't seem to realize that the Constitution spells out limits on the federal government's power and that the Bill of Rights was specifically written to codify and guarantee a certain basic set of Rights that the federal government was specifically forbidden to encroach on. Unfortunately, the Constitution is pretty much treated like toilet paper as it's been "re-interpreted" over and over with endless exceptions that were never intended or desired by the founding fathe

        • And they were mostly right. Many people don't seem to realize that the Constitution spells out limits on the federal government's power and that the Bill of Rights was specifically written to codify and guarantee a certain basic set of Rights that the federal government was specifically forbidden to encroach on.

          In fact, both groups were right. In practice, without something on paper to suggest that you have rights, there's no legal basis for it and a court will eventually take them away from you no matter how wrong it is. Putting these important rights into the constitution was a masterstroke. I only wish we had the cojones to do it again.

          • It certainly ended up being a great idea. The fact that it was considered unnecessary while feudalism was still being practiced in relatively developed countries at the time shows how far we've fallen aside from the obvious more recent advances in civil rights.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      So if I'm in law enforcement in Canada, I could say I have a magic device that detects corruption, point fingers, and then people just have to deal with it?

      Meanwhile in the USA people are able to scrutinize breathalyzers and challenge their validity in court?

      No. You don't have to deal with it, they still have to prove that it's admissible. That it follows the chain of evidence, and turn over all the information to the defense so you can build your case. In Canada you can challenge the validity of all those, and radar guns in cop cars and everything else too.

      In Canada however, the CEA(evidence act) allows the redaction of information if it would allow criminals to figure out a way to beat it. On the other hand, this can be used by a defense attorney to argue

  • by joe_frisch ( 1366229 ) on Monday October 30, 2017 @07:26PM (#55460743)

    I don't see how someone can receive a fair trial if the the mechanism used to collect evidence is secret. The prosecution can only claim to have phone records, there is no way for the defense to question their accuracy, or whether the evidence could be spoofed.

    The only reason to keep the operation of stingrays secret is of there is some way to spoof them. In that case how can you be sure that there aren't already spoofing systems in the wild?

    As a Juror I would ignore any "secret" evidence.

    • I don't see how someone can receive a fair trial if the the mechanism used to collect evidence is secret.

      I think you're confusing Canada with a country that has a Bill of Rights.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Strider- ( 39683 )

        I think you're confusing Canada with a country that has a Bill of Rights.

        No, but we have the "Charter of Rights and Freedoms" which is in many respects a much stronger document than your bill of rights. It has been a huge piece of jurisprudence in its 35 years of existence.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 30, 2017 @10:09PM (#55461375)

          Oh how quaint that you think the Canadian Charter is somehow stronger than the US Constitution. First off, the Charter grants rights while the Constitution enumerates rights that already inherently exist for people. Second, the Charter can be changed by a simple majority in Parliament at a whim and the rulings of the supreme Court overruled by the "Notwithstanding clause" and "Limitations Clause"...

          Here are the facts about Canada and your supposed "rights":

          There is no first amendment right - not to assemble (Riot Act), not to freedom of speech (why the idiot handing out anti-gay pamphlets in Regina was forced to pay $15k for offending five gay families).

          There is no second amendment right - not even to defend yourself in your home.

          There is no third amendment right - the government could pass a law to quarter infantry and it is perfectly constitutional.

          There is no fourth amendment or sixth amendment right as this article shows.

          Your executive branch is a figurehead and symbolic. Your Senate is unelected and a rubber stamp. I can keep going on and on about Canada but your attempt to even compare the two systems of government is simply not going to work for anyone willing to look past the "nice Canadian" trope.

        • we have the "Charter of Rights and Freedoms" which is in many respects a much stronger document than your bill of rights. ... in its 35 years of existence.

          ROFLCOPTER

    • Well it's Canada so they don't have the same laws as we do but as a juror I agree I'd be tempted to let anyone off the hook as a statement against bringing magic gizmos into court regardless of what the law says.

    • As a Juror I would ignore any "secret" evidence.

      You're not the Juror they're looking for.
      When I was called up for jury duty, the company lawyer advised me to wear a suit, the defense would challenge me.
      It worked like a charm. Out of the jury pool that day about 15 men wore suits, we were all challenged.

      • I've never sat a trial either - an I really don't try to get out. My honest answers seem to be quite sufficient .

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Reading a book rather than watching television with other potential jurors also used to work very well. In the Boston area court systems, enough jurors were called for jury duty to handle every case that day. Very, very few cases ever received a jury, they were almost all settled or continued. But if you wanted to avoid actually hearing a case, bringing a *book*, reading it, and not staring at the idiot box suspended on the wall was one of the best ways to avoid duty. The attorneys *always* found an excuse

      • In America, de facto, programmers are not allowed to sit on a jury.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Depends on what the local version of a police grade DROPOUTJEEP collects?
      "NSA spyware gives agency full access to the .. (Dec 31, 2013)
      https://www.cnet.com/news/nsa-... [cnet.com]
      i.e. the push/pull files. SMS and contact list retrieval, voicemail, geolocation, hot mic, camera capture, cell tower location...
    • by davecb ( 6526 ) <davec-b@rogers.com> on Monday October 30, 2017 @09:04PM (#55461157) Homepage Journal

      The reason the cops are withdrawing charges is because they don't want to allow the defence to make them provide evidence that exposes the stingrays.

      Canadian law doesn't allow secret evidence. Even military secrets have to be entered into evidence, although that requires judges and lawyers with high levels of clearance.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. People love to stick behind the “if you are innocent you have nothing to hide” response but that’s bs. It’s a very thin line but easy to cross. I can’t remember the professors name, a law school professor who had a video of his lecture on why you shouldn’t agree to talk to the police even if you’re innocent. We get accused of stuff we aren’t guilty of but I’m willing to bear that burden. Hell its already cost me a couple relationships :-/

    • I don't see how someone can receive a fair trial if the the mechanism used to collect evidence is secret

      Therein lies the fucking point.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      As a Juror I would ignore any "secret" evidence.

      In Canada, a jury trial is an option the defense has for criminal cases. You can choose - go against a judge, or a jury. It's not mandatory you use a jury, and in general, it's a lot less showy.

      General wisdom is you don't generally want a jury trial - you're already starting off with jurors who you pulled from their daily routine, and in general, the Crown only puts up charges they have a reasonable chance of succeeding with. So the record for jury trials isn'

    • That's what is implied by the ruling, actually; if it is secret, then the charges get thrown out. For the reasons you gave.

      The problem people have in understanding is that the summary only gives basic facts without context, and commenters just make wild extrapolations based on their own political biases, instead of asking what the implications are based on Canadian civics.

      The court has to first agree that it is secret before they can weigh the need of the defense to have the information. It is a fight that

  • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Monday October 30, 2017 @08:58PM (#55461143)

    they should have nothing to worry about and nothing to hide.

    hey, that's what they (LEOs) say to us, all the time!

    seems there is one law for me, and another for thee.

  • Alberta isn't like the rest of Canada. They're more like Texan wannabes with Cowboy hats and boots. Fascist stuff like this is par for the course. Lake Louise is nice though. Just don't step out of line.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Texas is not remotely fascist, in fact it's pretty loose as far as laws are concerned. Basically, leave people the hell alone and you'll have a good time there. Californians are voting with their feet and leaving the workers' paradise. You simply don't know enough to criticize accurately, you've got some imaginary idea in your head and you criticize that. This happens a lot among leftists. Self-described leftists (or progressives) and conservatives were asked to describe how the other side would think

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Funny thing is... every time I've been to Texas I've been amazed at how many regulations there are on personal behavior. Toll roads with tracking technology, red light cameras everywhere, dumbass laws on where you can't buy a drink that make the idiocy that is Florida look sane.

        Now, if you want to under pay people, run a business with no worker protections, pollute the environment without consequence, have religious preferences turned into bullshit medical regulations, have religiously censored textbooks,

      • They think they're Texans, they want to be Texans. I have no problem with Texas, have never been there. Have lived in Alberta though and stick to my main point, it's different than all the rest of Canada. And as far as the left/right thing that's American B.S.. Your politics have nothing to do with reality. And you misquoted me.
  • Here we have a use of juridical authority so undividedly popular, so obviously righteous, so manifestly in the public interest, that it can only be done in utter secrecy.

  • by slazzy ( 864185 ) on Monday October 30, 2017 @11:15PM (#55461545) Homepage Journal
    You mean were not even allowed to mention it was a StingRay II System Kit with AmberJack-W, oops!
    • A StingRay II System Kit with AmberJack-W, you say?

      It would be unfortunate if people started mentioning that without considering how it might hurt the cops' feelings.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 31, 2017 @02:03AM (#55461827)

        A StingRay II System Kit with AmberJack-W, you say?

        It would be unfortunate if people started mentioning that without considering how it might hurt the cops' feelings.

        In that case they'd probably be heartbroken to learn that the complete manual set, schematic diagrams, and parts layout drawings and part # list has been up at various locations on the dark web for many months, along with several other models/makes of IMSI-catchers used by various governments and LEAs worldwide.

        One very scary aspect of nearly all commercial IMSI-catchers is that they can 'impersonate' any cellphone it's captured to cellphone towers. They can cause the cell-provider's logs to show 'that phone' connected from wherever they like and transmitting whatever they wish, even CP.

        "When 'Parallel Construction' just doesn't get the job done because he's totally innocent nor violates enough laws and civil rights..."

        • Thank goodness the cell phones of actual officers could never be compromised this way. That would be just horrible!

  • Surveillance Devices (Score:4, Interesting)

    by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2017 @01:55AM (#55461817)

    Is there anyone left who doesn't realize that Cellphones at the hardware level are designed as surveillance and tracking devices? If you are doing anything you think the government might not like, you'd best rid yourself of these trackers. Put it in a lead box at the least.

    • Is there anyone left who doesn't realize that Cellphones at the hardware level are designed as surveillance and tracking devices?

      Yes obviously. If these were designed as surveillance and tracking devices then we wouldn't need external and secret hardware that goes to great pains in order to track us.

    • Put it in a lead box at the least.

      Inertial tracking.

  • I know there are a few for Android, but what about those silly Apple users? Do they have any way to detect them?

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