Federal Judge Becomes First To Throw Out Warrantless Stingray Evidence

A federal judge has became the first to suppress evidence obtained without a warrant by U.S. law enforcement using a Stingray cell-site simulator.

Stingrays are portable devices that mimic a cell tower and trick nearby cell phones to connect to them. They then capture the connected devices’ data, allowing cops to track users’ locations – and can also be used to intercept calls and text messages in real time.

Once deployed, the devices intercept data from a target phone as well as information from other phones within the vicinity. They are relatively small and easily transportable.

The ACLU has identified 66 agencies in 24 states and the District of Columbia that own Stingrays, but because many agencies continue to shroud their purchase and use in secrecy, much is still unknown regarding their deployment by law enforcement nationwide.

Federal agencies documented using the devices include the FBI, NSA, DEA, IRS and the U.S. Marshals. Some of the agencies have even been caught routinely attaching Stingrays to airplanes in order to pick up information from thousands of unwitting people on the ground.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled that Raymond Lambis’ rights were violated when the DEA used a Stingray without a warrant to find his Washington Heights apartment, which was deemed the likely location of a cell phone pinpointed during a drug-trafficking probe.

“Absent a search warrant, the government may not turn a citizen’s cell phone into a tracking device,” Pauley wrote in his decision, adding that the doing so constitutes an unreasonable search.

In March, a Maryland appeals court became the first state appellate court in the nation to rebuke police and order evidence obtained using a stingray suppressed. Tuesday’s decision was the first such ruling on the federal level.

The Dept. of Justice changed its internal policies in September to require that government agents obtain a warrant before using a Stingray or other cell site simulators. That policy doesn’t affect how the practice is judged in court, but Lambis’ lawyer said the decision came just one week after his client was charged.

“This opinion strongly reinforces the strength of our constitutional privacy rights in the digital age,” attorney Nathan Freed Wessler said in a statement for the ACLU. The group has been at the forefront of documenting and advocating against the use of Stingrays.

It is unclear if the drug case against Lambis will now be dismissed or if federal prosecutors will appeal Pauley’s ruling. They have not commented on the decision.

EPN

Palestine Police Force Kolpak Wool Hat In Mint Condition 1947, By Goldstein Ltd picture
Palestine Police Force Kolpak Wool Hat In Mint Condition 1947, By Goldstein Ltd
$2999.0


Israel Palestine Police Lot Very Rare - Hat + Badge + Police Numbers + Teaspoon picture
Israel Palestine Police Lot Very Rare - Hat + Badge + Police Numbers + Teaspoon
$1000.0


Vtg 1929 Special Police Officer Uniform Bankers Hat Kansas City Missouri Papers picture
Vtg 1929 Special Police Officer Uniform Bankers Hat Kansas City Missouri Papers
$999.99


Ww 2 Helmet/hats picture
Ww 2 Helmet/hats
$999.0


Ww I Uruguayan Police Officer Full Dress Kepi Hat Cap With Red Pom Pom Very Rare picture
Ww I Uruguayan Police Officer Full Dress Kepi Hat Cap With Red Pom Pom Very Rare
$850.0


Asa J

works primarily as an independent advertising consultant employing grass roots strategies to raise awareness about businesses in their local communities. He has an Associates of Arts Degree and is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Communications/Advertising Degree at Appalachian State University. He is Founder of Police State Daily. His work has been referenced in places like The Washington Post and Esquire Magazine. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If you enjoy Asa's work at CopBlock.org, please consider tipping him Via PayPal or donating $1/month to the CopBlock Network. You can also purchase awesome CopBlock.org Gear from the store.