The use of Stingrays was first recorded in 2008 in California, when a tax thief was apprehended after filing returns for people who had died and receiving their refunds. The criminal believed he had hidden his footprints, but later discovered he had been apprehended using the stingray:
The Stingray has been secretly used by the US government for years, first for military use and then for law enforcement, to locate and monitor criminals using their cellular connections. Rigmaiden was one of the first civilians to hear about this technology, and his case helped to make it more widely known.
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Despite the fact that more detail regarding Stingrays — often known as IMSI catchers, cell-site simulators, or fake cell towers — has become accessible in recent years, court documents continue to regularly conceal usage of the devices by law enforcement. Police departments are reportedly required by at least one major manufacturer to never reveal that they use the devices…
However, by 2015, the federal government had to get a warrant before using them on Americans:
Nonetheless, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a new policy on Sept. 3, 2015, requiring its departments — including the FBI, US Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) — to obtain a warrant before using a Stingray in routine cases. The policy also requires that data obtained from non-suspects be destroyed as soon as a targeted suspect is identified.
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New guidelines were established in 2015, but they were just that:
The Justice Department issued new guidance last week on how its agents should use cell phone trackers in investigations. The revised policy includes a warrant requirement, specific instructions on how to write a thorough warrant, and provisions for removing bystander data, as planned. Civil liberties advocates hail the move as a huge step forward.
However, the seven-page policy is far from conclusive when it comes to StingRays. Beyond the Justice Department, the document’s minimal best practices have little jurisdiction. Non-DOJ federal agencies, as well as state and local law enforcement, are free to set their own cell site simulator guidelines.
Furthermore, as they have for years, departments under the Justice Department continue to contest revelations about StingRays. As significant as this policy is, it is just the first step toward true accountability in law enforcement cell phone monitoring.
The FBI and the Department of Justice reached an agreement with the Phoenix Police Department in February 2013. It is clear from this text that the Phoenix Police Department has devices such as mobile phone trackers: