SAN DIEGO – A national advocacy group is suing the San Diego Police Department claiming they use a controversial surveillance tool that allows them to track cell phones.
The StingRay, an International Mobile Subscriber Identity catcher, is the latest tool being used by law enforcement across the country, including SDPD. It allows the user to eavesdrop on mobile phone activity while at the same time track down to the exact location of the phone user.
The Stingray acts as a cell phone tower, effectively hijacking the data transmitted by the cell phone or other cellular devices.
“It allows the user to scan, analyze, intercept, monitor, record and track GSM mobiles, regardless if they are encrypted,” according to the Stingray developers.
The lawsuit against the SDPD intends to force the department to reveal its planned use of the technology.
“We want to request info about what [law enforcement] has, how many they use and what type of cases. Do they obtain a warrant?” said attorney Kelly Aviles.
The lawsuit claims the technology has no regulations or oversight.
“To what extent is it Big Brother? When we have police refusing to give any information about it,” Aviles said.