Following a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU of Florida, it has come to light that Florida police have been concealing the use of “stingrays,” which are essentially dummy cell towers that trick individuals’ cellphones into pinging through these fake towers, in order to collect personal information without the consent or knowledge of those being tracked.
From the ACLU:
In the email exchange, a Sarasota Police Department sergeant wrote that in a warrant application to a judge, a North Port Police Department detective had “specifically outlined the investigative means used to locate the suspect,” and the sergeant asked that the detective “submit a new PCA [probable cause affidavit] and seal the old one.” In other words, fix the old affidavit and keep the use of the stingray equipment secret.
From Wired Magazine:
At the request of the Marshals Service, the officers using so-called stingrays have been routinely telling judges, in applications for warrants, that they obtained knowledge of a suspect’s location from a “confidential source” rather than disclosing that the information was gleaned using a stingray.
You can read the emails here (PDF), which were disclosed following ACLU’s FOIA investigation.