You may be unaware that the police have a special suitcase for monitoring you if necessary. It is called a Stingray device. Basically it is a “cell sight simulator, a briefcase-sized surveillance device that allows the police to spy on cell phones in the area by mimicking a cell phone tower.” Basically a Stingray allows police to pinpoint your location, collect your phone numbers that you are texting and calling and in some situations, intercept the contents of all of your communications.

Recently, the New York Civil Liberties Union discovered that the sheriff’s department for Erie County, New York (which includes the city of Buffalo) used the Stingray device 47 times in 4 years, but only obtained a court order in one instance.

Apparently the sheriff obtained the device from the FBI which required them to sign an agreement maintaining total confidentiality and secrecy about the Stingray technology and any use of the device.

Similarly, the Baltimore Police Department used an advanced version of the Stingray (called a Hailstorm device), more than 800 times in the last two years. It was learned that when the FBI provided the device to the local police, it was with the understanding that any crimes that the prosecutor pursued as a result of information from that device would not be charged or would be dropped if the defendant was trying to force the police to disclose the use or existence of the device.

Although people complain about the American Civil Liberties Union, the primary purpose of the American Civil Liberties Union is to protect us from the government. The organization exists to protect our civil liberties. In this day of high technology, aggressive police policies, and now apparently secret agreements between agencies to keep their police tactics and technologies secret from the average citizen, protection of civil liberties is more important than it has ever been.

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