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The FBI Aviation Program includes Stingray & Hailstorm

Discussion in 'The Other Side Of The Hill' started by Michael Stogner, Jun 2, 2015.

  1. Michael Stogner

    Michael Stogner Active Member

    Pay attention to Harris Corp. products Stingray and Hailstorm they include a Non Disclosure agreement, so the public agency that buys it would not acknowledge that they have it or use it.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology — all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.

    The planes' surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge's approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. The FBI said it uses front companies to protect the safety of the pilots and aircraft. It also shields the identity of the aircraft so that suspects on the ground don't know they're being watched by the FBI.

    In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.

    Aerial surveillance represents a changing frontier for law enforcement, providing what the government maintains is an important tool in criminal, terrorism or intelligence probes. But the program raises questions about whether there should be updated policies protecting civil liberties as new technologies pose intrusive opportunities for government spying.

    U.S. law enforcement officials confirmed for the first time the wide-scale use of the aircraft, which the AP traced to at least 13 fake companies, such as FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR Aviation and PXW Services.

    Even basic aspects of the program are withheld from the public in censored versions of official reports from the Justice Department's inspector general.

    The FBI also has been careful not to reveal its surveillance flights in court documents.

    "The FBI's aviation program is not secret," spokesman Christopher Allen said in a statement. "Specific aircraft and their capabilities are protected for operational security purposes." Allen added that the FBI's planes "are not equipped, designed or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance."

    View gallery

    In this photo taken May 26, 2015, a small plane flies near Manassas Regional Airport in Manassas, Va …
    But the planes can capture video of unrelated criminal activity on the ground that could be handed over for prosecutions.

    Some of the aircraft can also be equipped with technology that can identify thousands of people below through the cellphones they carry, even if they're not making a call or in public. Officials said that practice, which mimics cell towers and gets phones to reveal basic subscriber information, is rare.

    Details confirmed by the FBI track closely with published reports since at least 2003 that a government surveillance program might be behind suspicious-looking planes slowly circling neighborhoods. The AP traced at least 50 aircraft back to the FBI, and identified more than 100 flights since late April orbiting both major cities and rural areas.

    One of the planes, photographed in flight last week by the AP in northern Virginia, bristled with unusual antennas under its fuselage and a camera on its left side. A federal budget document from 2010 mentioned at least 115 planes, including 90 Cessna aircraft, in the FBI's surveillance fleet.

    The FBI also occasionally helps local police with aerial support, such as during the recent disturbance in Baltimore that followed the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who sustained grievous injuries while in police custody. Those types of requests are reviewed by senior FBI officials.

    The surveillance flights comply with agency rules, an FBI spokesman said. Those rules, which are heavily redacted in publicly available documents, limit the types of equipment the agency can use, as well as the justifications and duration of the surveillance.

    Details about the flights come as the Justice Department seeks to navigate privacy concerns arising from aerial surveillance by unmanned aircrafts, or drones. President Barack Obama has said he welcomes a debate on government surveillance, and has called for more transparency about spying in the wake of disclosures about classified programs.

    View gallery

    In this photo taken May 26, 2015, a small plane flies near Manassas Regional Airport in Manassas, Va …
    "These are not your grandparents' surveillance aircraft," said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union, calling the flights significant "if the federal government is maintaining a fleet of aircraft whose purpose is to circle over American cities, especially with the technology we know can be attached to those aircraft."

    During the past few weeks, the AP tracked planes from the FBI's fleet on more than 100 flights over at least 11 states plus the District of Columbia, most with Cessna 182T Skylane aircraft. These included parts of Houston, Phoenix, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis and Southern California.

    Evolving technology can record higher-quality video from long distances, even at night, and can capture certain identifying information from cellphones using a device known as a "cell-site simulator" — or Stingray, to use one of the product's brand names. These can trick pinpointed cellphones into revealing identification numbers of subscribers, including those not suspected of a crime.

    Officials say cellphone surveillance is rare, although the AP found in recent weeks FBI flights orbiting large, enclosed buildings for extended periods where aerial photography would be less effective than electronic signals collection. Those included above Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.

    After The Washington Post revealed flights by two planes circling over Baltimore in early May, the AP began analyzing detailed flight data and aircraft-ownership registrations that shared similar addresses and flight patterns. That review found some FBI missions circled above at least 40,000 residents during a single flight over Anaheim, California, in late May, according to Census data and records provided by the website FlightRadar24.com.

    Most flight patterns occurred in counter-clockwise orbits up to several miles wide and roughly one mile above the ground at slow speeds. A 2003 newsletter from the company FLIR Systems Inc., which makes camera technology such as seen on the planes, described flying slowly in left-handed patterns.

    "Aircraft surveillance has become an indispensable intelligence collection and investigative technique which serves as a force multiplier to the ground teams," the FBI said in 2009 when it asked Congress for $5.1 million for the program.

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    Graphic shows three distinct flight paths over major U.S. cities conducted by the FBI; 0 1/2c x 6 in …
    Recently, independent journalists and websites have cited companies traced to post office boxes in Virginia, including one shared with the Justice Department. The AP analyzed similar data since early May, while also drawing upon aircraft registration documents, business records and interviews with U.S. officials to understand the scope of the operations.

    The FBI asked the AP not to disclose the names of the fake companies it uncovered, saying that would saddle taxpayers with the expense of creating new cover companies to shield the government's involvement, and could endanger the planes and integrity of the surveillance missions. The AP declined the FBI's request because the companies' names — as well as common addresses linked to the Justice Department — are listed on public documents and in government databases.

    At least 13 front companies that AP identified being actively used by the FBI are registered to post office boxes in Bristow, Virginia, which is near a regional airport used for private and charter flights. Only one of them appears in state business records.

    Included on most aircraft registrations is a mysterious name, Robert Lindley. He is listed as chief executive and has at least three distinct signatures among the companies. Two documents include a signature for Robert Taylor, which is strikingly similar to one of Lindley's three handwriting patterns.

    The FBI would not say whether Lindley is a U.S. government employee. The AP unsuccessfully tried to reach Lindley at phone numbers registered to people of the same name in the Washington area since Monday.

    Law enforcement officials said Justice Department lawyers approved the decision to create fictitious companies to protect the flights' operational security and that the Federal Aviation Administration was aware of the practice. One of the Lindley-headed companies shares a post office box openly used by the Justice Department.

    Such elusive practices have endured for decades. A 1990 report by the then-General Accounting Office noted that, in July 1988, the FBI had moved its "headquarters-operated" aircraft into a company that wasn't publicly linked to the bureau.

    The FBI does not generally obtain warrants to record video from its planes of people moving outside in the open, but it also said that under a new policy it has recently begun obtaining court orders to use cell-site simulators. The Obama administration had until recently been directing local authorities through secret agreements not to reveal their own use of the devices, even encouraging prosecutors to drop cases rather than disclose the technology's use in open court.

    A Justice Department memo last month also expressly barred its component law enforcement agencies from using unmanned drones "solely for the purpose of monitoring activities protected by the First Amendment" and said they are to be used only in connection with authorized investigations and activities. A department spokeswoman said the policy applied only to unmanned aircraft systems rather than piloted airplanes.


    Associated Press writers Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City; Joan Lowy and Ted Bridis in Washington; Randall Chase in Wilmington, Delaware; and news researchers Monika Mathur in Washington and Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.
  2. Michael Stogner

    Michael Stogner Active Member

    No stingray in Silicon Valley: county kills plan to buy surveillance device

    Privacy advocates claim victory as Santa Clara County abandons plan to buy cellphone surveillance device after a ‘lengthy negotiation’ falls through

    The ACLU said: ‘Stingrays are very invasive surveillance tracking technology and county was right to bring the issue of its acquisition to the Board of Supervisors and thoroughly consider the legal issues.’ Photograph: Harris Corporation
    Jessica Glenza in New York

    Thursday 7 May 201513.01 EDTLast modified on Thursday 7 May 201513.36 EDT
    Privacy advocates are lauding the decision of a Silicon Valley county to abandon the purchase of a cellphone surveillance device, declaring victory over widespread police use of the stingray technology that many see as invasive.

    Officials in Santa Clara County approved the purchase of a stingray in February using federal funds. However, a deal with the device’s secretive manufacturer, Harris Corporation, fell through after “lengthy negotiation”.

    “After lengthy negotiations regarding contracts terms, including business and legal issues, the county and Harris have been unable to reach agreement on a contract for the purchase of the system,” a Tuesday letter from Santa Clara’s deputy county executive, James R Williams, said.

    The devices intercept cellphone signals to pinpoint the location of a phone, based on its unique international subscriber number. Problematically, the devices interrupt cellphone service and collect information from all cellphones in a given area, raising privacy and public safety concerns.

    The federal government has supported the use of such devices through national security grants to state and local communities. Santa Clara had one such grant for $500,000. The “Hailstorm” system, a high-powered variant of the stingray device, which the county was interested in purchasing likely would have eaten up the majority, if not all, of the grant.

    The FBI has used this anti-terrorism rationale espoused in national security grants to attempt an almost complete lockdown on information about the devices.

    Local police are required to sign a wide-ranging non-disclosure agreement before acquiring a stingray. A Guardian investigationrecently revealed that the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) requires police to avoid divulging information by dismissing criminal cases, avoiding search warrants and forwarding local open records requests to the FBI.

    The NDA also bars police from telling local officials about the device’s capabilities, and therein lay the problem for officials in Santa Clara County. The secrecy led to a testy exchange between leaders and the county sheriff.

    “I can’t even get a disclosure to the contents of the non-disclosure agreement, so we don’t even know what it is we have agreed not to disclose,” Santa Clara County’s supervisor, Joe Simitian, said at a meeting discussing the purchase, the San Jose Mercury News reported at the time. “It’s unlike anything I’ve previously encountered.”

    Despite comments from the supervisor, the county went on to approve the device at a 24 February meeting. However, the deal fell through when the county was unable to negotiate terms with Harris.

    “Stingrays are very invasive surveillance tracking technology and Santa Clara County was right to bring the issue of its acquisition to the Board of Supervisors and thoroughly consider the legal issues,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California said in a release on Wednesday.

    It’s possible that negotiations failed because of the county’s unique working group tasked with developing a use policy around the stingray. Unlike many local governments, Santa Clara County has an “overarching county effort related to the development of policies concerning surveillance technology”.
  3. Michael Stogner

    Michael Stogner Active Member

    The Non Disclosure agreement is with Harris Corp and the FBI.

    Simitian, who was alone in opposition to using a $500,000 federal grant to get the Hailstorm system before rules about its use were in place, pointed to required nondisclosure agreements with both the manufacturer, Harris, and the FBI and said there are "obvious difficulties in trying to make policy and law with so little information."

    Judge Patrick NeMoyer cited a case in which the FBI instructed the Erie County Sheriff's Office to drop charges instead of revealing any information about the stingray.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
  4. Michael Stogner

    Michael Stogner Active Member

    • Disclosing information "is a felony punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment and up to $1 million per occurrence." I wonder if this is why Rebbecca Rosenblatt said "No we don't."

    • Michael Stogner
    • May 14
    • Public Information Officer
    Thank You

    From: Public Information Officer <PIO@smcgov.org>
    To: Michael Stogner <michaelgstogner@yahoo.com>
    Sent: Thursday, May 14, 2015 2:50 PM
    Subject: Re: Harris Corp.

    No we do not.

    Deputy Rebecca Rosenblatt
    Public Information Officer

    San Mateo County Sheriff's Office
    400 County Center
    Redwood City, CA 94063
    (650) 363-4800 work
    (650) 421-1243 cell
    (650) 599-1563 faxpio@smcgov.org
    Follow us on Twitter @SMCSheriff
    "Like" us on Facebook: facebook.com/SMCSheriff>>> Michael Stogner <michaelgstogner@yahoo.com> 5/14/2015 9:38 AM >>>
    Hello Rebecca,
    Does the San Mateo County Sheriff Office have Stingray or Hailstorm technology?
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2015
  5. Michael Stogner

    Michael Stogner Active Member

    Many police departments spy on you without oversight. This must end
    Trevor Timm

    Stingray phone trackers are so controversial that some state legislatures have passed laws restricting their use – which is why police want to keep it secret

    Police could be vacuuming up telecommunications in a neighborhood near you. Photograph: RayArt Graphics / Alamy/Alamy
    Contact author

    Wednesday 26 August 2015 07.00 EDTLast modified on Wednesday 26 August 201514.56 EDT


    Local police around the country are increasingly using high-tech mass surveillance gear that can vacuum up private information on entire neighborhoods of innocent citizens - all to capture minor alleged criminals. Even worse, many cops are trying to put themselves outside the reach of the law by purposefully hiding their spying from courts to avoid any scrutiny from judges.

    Two important news reports from the last week have shed light on the disturbing practices, and new technology that’s never been previously reported. The first investigation, done by USA Today’s Brad Heath, found: “In one case after another … police in Baltimore and other cities used the phone tracker, commonly known as a stingray, to locate the perpetrators of routine street crimes and frequently concealed that fact from the suspects, their lawyers and even judges.”

    Stingrays facilitate a particular controversial and invasive form of surveillance, where the police essentially own a roving, fake cell phone tower that force all the cell phones in its vicinity to connect to it. They then vacuum up the cell phone data of their suspect, as well as that of potentially hundreds of innocent citizens. Police departments have previously claimed they would only use it in “emergencies,” but as predicted by nearly everyone, those vows have almost immediately went out the window once they got their hands on the technology.

    Stingrays are so controversial that some state legislatures have already passed laws restricting their use – which is exactly why police want to keep it secret. Police and the FBI have claimed extreme secrecy is needed to prevent alleged criminals from finding out about how they use the devices, but they are so well-known at this point that they’ve been featured in virtually every major newspaper in the country. The real reason they want to keep them secret is to protect them from judges ruling their use illegal, as well as from state legislatures cracking down on them.

    Stingrays are expensive, costing police departments hundreds of thousands of dollars (when they don’t get a grant from the federal government to get them for free). But the ability to secretly track untold numbers of cell phones is getting much cheaper still, as a second-generation of products is now coming to the market.

    The Wall Street Journal also reported last week about newer devices costing as little as a few hundred dollars with ominous sounding names like the “Jugular” and “Wolfhound.” While, thanks to all the restrictive secrecy around them, it’s still unclear exactly how they work, we do know that they use radio waves to find cell phones and that the police supposedly don’t think they require a court order at all to use against potential suspects. They’re also smaller than Stingrays, which fit into the back of a van. These devices are handheld or can be attached to clothing.

    “We can’t disclose any legal requirements associated with the use of this equipment,” a spokeswoman for the Baltimore County Police told the Wall Street Journal. “Doing so may disclose how we use it, which, in turn, interferes with its public-safety purpose.”

    This is not only potentially illegal - defendants have the Sixth Amendment right to know how evidence was gathered against them - but keeping the legal rationale for surveillance hidden is also an absurd concept. It’s like saying the fact that a warrant is required for the police to wiretap your phone should be a state secret, and the Fourth Amendment - instead of being enshrined in the Constitution - should be redacted from public view.

    Not only are these cops violating the constitutional rights of defendants by spying on them without court orders, but, in some cases, they’re also allegedly dismissing felony cases involving potentially dangerous criminals, so they can prevent judges from ruling on whether their surveillance tactics are legal. The USA Today reported that the Baltimore police quickly dropped a kidnapping charge without explanation when their tactics might have been revealed.

    Think about that for a moment: rather than be upfront about their surveillance methods to prosecutors, defendants and judges - like is required by law - they are purposefully letting serious alleged criminals go free, all to continue their blanket surveillance practices with minimal scrutiny.

    All of this is especially disturbing considering the recent reports - confirmed by the government’s own documents - that both the Department of Homeland Security and local police departments are closely monitoring peaceful activists in the #BlackLivesMatter movement, in some cases with police counterterrorism officers. If local police departments are willing to use these powerful devices on minor criminals, in many cases without court orders, and have no problem hiding their practices from judges, what’s the prevent them from spying on citizens merely expressing their First Amendment rights? The answer seems to be nothing, and that is exactly why this reckless snooping must end.
  6. Michael Stogner

    Michael Stogner Active Member

    Stingray spying: FBI's secret deal with police hides phone dragnet from courts

    Strikingly similar non-disclosure agreements signed in Florida, New York and Maryland were revealed this week. The documents force police to conceal from judges how they find information obtained by metadata-capturing technology. Photo illustration: Guardian US interactive (car illustration via EFF/flickr)

    Jessica Glenza in Los Angeles andNicky Woolf in New York

    Friday 10 April 201510.49 EDTLast modified on Friday 10 April 201511.54 EDT


    The FBI is taking extraordinary and potentially unconstitutional measures to keep local and state police forces from exposing the use of so-called “Stingray” surveillance technology across the United States, according to documents obtained separately by the Guardian and the American Civil Liberties Union.

    Multiple non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) revealed in Florida, New York andMaryland this week show federal authorities effectively binding local law enforcement from disclosing any information – even to judges – about the cellphone dragnet technology, its collection capabilities or its existence.

    In an arrangement that shocked privacy advocates and local defense attorneys, the secret pact also mandates that police notify the FBI to push for the dismissal of cases if technical specifications of the devices are in danger of being revealed in court.

    The agreement also contains a clause forcing law enforcement to notify the FBI if freedom of information requests are filed by members of the public or the media for such information, “in order to allow sufficient time for the FBI to seek to prevent disclosure through appropriate channels”.

    The strikingly similar NDAs, taken together with documents connecting police to the technology’s manufacturer and federal approval guidelines obtained by the Guardian, suggest a state-by-state chain of secrecy surrounding widespread use of the sophisticated cellphone spying devices known best by the brand of one such device: the Stingray.

    “The device has the ability to pull content, so all the sudden your text messages are at risk, your phone calls are at risk, and your data transmission, potentially,” said John Sawicki, a former police officer who consults attorneys on technological evidence, of the Stingray device made by Harris Corporation. Photograph: Harris Corporation
    Made by Florida-based Harris Corporation, the Stingray and similar devices are known as IMSI-catchers or cell-site simulators.

    Often not much bigger than a suitcase, the devices are easily portable. They gather information by imitating cellphone towers, scooping up metadata from all devices that connect to the fake tower. Experts told the Guardian that the devices may also be capable of gathering content from phones that connect to them.

    The secrecy required by such NDAs is perhaps why information on the use of Stingrays by local police forces remains scarce after years of probing by civil-liberties advocates – and why the true scale of the technology’s use is unknown. But other documents recently obtained by the Guardian and the ACLU hint at how widespread the practice might be.

    The ACLU has shown that at least 48 agencies across 20 states likely use the devices. Documents obtained by the Guardian show police from states as such as Texas, Florida, Washington, Minnesota, Virginia, Florida, Maryland, Illinois,Arizona, and California utilize the devices.

    The Florida agreement – obtained from the Hillsborough County sheriff’s office by the Guardian after a series of Stingray-related Freedom of Information Act requests sent over the past seven months – reads in part:

    “The Florida Department of Law Enforcement will, at the request of the FBI, seek dismissal of the case in lieu of providing, or allowing others to use or provide, any information concerning the Harris Corporation wireless collection equipment/technology, its associated software, operating manuals, and any related documentation.”

    Law enforcement agencies that sign NDAs similar to the one in Hillsborough County are barred from providing “any information” about the Stingray-style devices in search warrants, pre-trial hearings, testimony, grand jury proceedings, in appeals or even in defense discovery. Per the agreement, police can only release the “evidentiary results” obtained with the device.

    And if the police think a prosecutor is “considering” including such information in a trial, they must notify the FBI, “to allow sufficient time for the FBI to intervene to protect the information/technology and information from disclosure and potential compromise.”

    In other words, police can tell the courts about the information they found with the portable spy gadgets – just not how they found it.

    “It reminds me of what happens in totalitarian countries: you don’t know what the hell is going on,” said law professor Bruce R Jacob, the former dean of Stetson law school in Florida, when shown a copy of the NDA for Hillsborough County, which includes the Tampa metropolitan area.

    “That’s an interference by the FBI and this company, and FDLE in the operation of the local courts,” he said.

    In response to a detailed list of questions from the Guardian, the FBI sent a copy of an affidavit from 2014 by supervising special agent Bradley Morrison, chief of the agency’s tracking technology unit.

    The FBI affidavit states that the agency believes cell-site simulator devices are exempt from discovery because information “could easily impair use of this investigative method”, and affirms the agency’s policy of secrecy on the matter.

    “Disclosure of even minor details about the use of cell site simulators may reveal more information than their apparent insignificance suggests because, much like a jigsaw puzzle, each detail may aid in piecing together other bits of information even when the individual piece is not of obvious importance in itself,” the affidavit states.

    The Florida department of law enforcement (FDLE) and its subsidiary in the Hillsborough County sheriff’s office did not respond to requests for details from the Guardian. Harris Corp said Thursday it could not comment.

    The FBI’s extreme secrecy: ‘Interfering with the courts’
    Two additional versions of similar Stingray NDAs – only with different county names – were obtained this week, one following a lawsuit against the Erie County sheriff’s office by the ACLU of West New York, and the other by a Baltimore defense attorney trying a city carjacking case.

    An equipment grant authorization document obtained by the Guardian from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) states that local police must coordinate with the FBI to use Harris Corporation’s devices. “State and local law enforcement agencies must advance coordinate with the FBI the acquisition and use of the equipment authorized under this authorization,” the document states.

    And similar NDAs have also been obtained – albeit in heavily redacted form – in Washington state and Minnesota.

    “The dynamic we’re seeing is the federal government leaning heavily on local police,” ACLU staff attorney Nathan Freed Wessler said. “Even departments who have said that they would like to be more transparent are being prevented from doing so by this agreement that they’re being forced to sign.”

    The provision for pushing cases for dismissal rather than reveal information about Stingray capabilities and scope, he said, represented “the FBI’s consistent policy of making local police maintain extraordinary and extreme secrecy”.

    Jacob, the law professor who has reviewed the pacts, said they were “interfering with the operation of the courts” and judges’ ability to evaluate whether a search and seizure involving Stingray technology is even constitutional under the fourth amendment. He said the NDA could also interfere with fair hearings, allowing some defendants to walk free while others are convicted on the basis of the evidence obtained with such devices.

    “The defendant who finds out about this is able to get his case dismissed, and the other defendant can’t? That’s unfair.”

    From Baltimore to Tampa to Stingray HQ: ‘Your phone calls are at risk’
    Hillsborough County includes the Tampa metropolitan area. One document shows state law enforcement willing to pay for 11 days of ‘necessary training’ on ‘vital’ equipment made by Stingray’s manufacturer. Photograph: Facebook
    Despite the sweeping NDAs that law enforcement offices like the Hillsborough County sheriff have signed, local departments have recently struggled to keep a lid on their use of the dragnet.

    In Baltimore on Tuesday, policerevealed another example of the FBI non-disclosure agreement in court – and also that they had used Stingray technology 4,300 times since 2007, according to defense attorney Joshua Insley. In other cities across the country – from Texas and Minnesota to California and Washington state – the Guardian has obtained invoices, purchase orders and training documents confirming the use of Stingrays.

    In June 2014, according to a training request obtained by the Guardian, Hillsborough County detective Mark Gilbertson wrote that the FDLE would pay $5,000 for 11 days of “necessary training” at the Harris Corporation’s base in Melbourne, Florida, on a $780,000 “piece of cellular equipment”.

    The exact type of device remains unclear, but the request said the training was “vital to the sheriff’s office” and that “only” one other employee at the office was “actively trained in this equipment”.

    In its freedom of information response to the Guardian, the Hillsborough sheriff’s office refused to hand over any training materials, saying they were the property of Harris Corporation and “proprietary”. The NDA bars “direct or indirect statements to the media” about Harris corporation equipment.

    John Sawicki, a former police officer who founded Forensic Data Corp, a company that consults attorneys on technological evidence, said “one of the problems we have is we don’t know for sure” what Stingrays specifically can even do, wherever they are used.

    “When you get an officer into a deposition and ask what the capability of the device is, they say, ‘Well I can’t get into it because of the NDA.’ We’re left to speculate a bit as to what the device can do,” he said.

    “We believe that, at least in some cases, the device has the ability to pull content, so all the sudden your text messages are at risk, your phone calls are at risk, and your data transmission, potentially.”

    The NDAs drastically reduce courts’ access to documents on the devices. With provisions that restrict defense attorneys’ discovery, pre-trial motions, testimony and even court orders, defense attorneys say even basic due process has become frustratingly difficult.

    tense exchanges in courtrooms, and thecrumbling of prosecution’s cases, as they attempt to maintain secrecy. City councils may even be unaware that the police departments they oversee are using the devices if the local force has signed similar agreements with the FBI.

    Now, defense attorneys appear to be catching on to the practice. In Tallahassee, Florida, the ACLU has amassed a list of more than 300 cases where they believe Stingrays have been used to locate clients, and at least one Florida case recently came undone when defense attorneys began to dig into the involvement of Stingrays.

    There, a robbery defendant took a plea bargain of six months probation after defense attorneys started asking questions about how police found her client.
    Dan Ullom likes this.
  7. Michael Stogner

    Michael Stogner Active Member


    II4/18/13 TITLE: Hailstorm Proiect- Pen-Lmk



    SINGLE SOURCE Single source bids or purchases may be necessary when a specific good or service must be procured. Item or service ls recognized in its field as one of a kind.

    The manufacturer of the item only sells direct with no distributors.
    Item or service is patented or proprietary.
    The expense or drawbacks to modify an existing standardized commodity would outweigh the single source purchase.




    ISheriff's Office

    DIVISION MANAGER: IMichael McCabe, Undersheriff [PHONE#: I8-0146

    CONTRACT ADMIN: ~ID_a_l_e_M_i_lle_r~,_L_t._ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ~I PHONE#: I2-9986 :::::======='.




    Hailstorm Communications Equipment


    DESCRIPTION OF SERVICE OR PRODUCT: Provided By Using Department

    Purchase of software that connects the Hailstorm equipment to all cellular phone companies through a direct internet connection. This equipment is a regional asset for all police agencies in Oakland County that will be maintained by the Oakland County Sheriff's Office.


    REASON FOR EXCEPTION: Provided By Using Department

    Harris Corporation recommended Pen-Link sofware to communicate with their equipment and the cellular phone companies. The project was approved by the Oakland County Grant Allocation Committe {GAC) and has been approved by the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) Board as well as the State. It will be funded under the 2012 Department of Homeland Security UASI Grant The grant performance period expires in April of 2014 and the funds must be encumbered by November of this year. This software fullfills the requirements of the GAC and the Sheriff's Office.




    Undersheriff Michael G. McCabe



    REV 2011/01/25


    REbf;i[ / 4/18/13 / RE;~~:~IH_ai_ls_t_o_rm_P_r_o_ie_c_t_-_K_E_Y1_w _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    EXCEPTION: SINGLE SOURCE Single source bids or purchases may be necessary when a specific good or service must be procured. Item or service is recognized in its field as one of a kind.

    The manufacturer of the item only sells direct with no distributors.
    Item or service is patented or proprietary.
    The expense or drawbacks to modify an existing standardized commodity would outweigh the single source purchase.

    / Sheriff's Office

    DIVISION MANAGER: / Michael McCabe, Undersheriff CONTRACT ADMIN: / Dale Miller, Lt.DOCUMENT#: / 207854 I DURATION OF SERVICES: / 1 Time

    VENDOR NAME: KEYW ~-----------------------------~


    / PHONE#: / 8-0146 ::::====::::::

    / PHONE#: ~I2_-_9_98_6_ _ ~ PURCHASE AMOUNT: I$23,850.00


    Hailstorm Communications Equipment



    This is hand held equipment, which is used in connection with the Hailstorm system for close quarters and foot tracking for suspects involved in criminal activity. This equipment is a regional asset for all police agencies in Oakland County that will be maintained by the Oakland County Sheritrs Office.


    REASON FOR EXCEPTION: Provided By Using Department

    Harris Corporation recommended KEYW as the equipment that works best with their system. The project was approved by the Oakland County Grant Allocation Committe (GAC) and has been approved by the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) Board as well as the State. It will be funded under the 2012 Department of Homeland Security UASI Grant. The grant performance period expires in April of 2014 and the funds must be encumbered by November of this year. KEYW fulfills the requirements of the GAC and the Sheriff's Office.


    DA E

    Undersheriff Michael G. McCabe


    REV 2011/01125

  8. Michael Stogner

    Michael Stogner Active Member

  9. Michael Stogner

    Michael Stogner Active Member

    IRS possessed Stingray cellphone surveillance gear, documents reveal

    Exclusive: Invoices reveal tax service, 13th federal agency to use secretive dragnet, upgraded device that pretends to be cellphone tower to gather metadata

    Often not much bigger than a suitcase, Stingray devices are easily portable in gathering information by imitating cellphone towers. Illustration: Electronic Frontier Foundation via Flickr
    Nicky Woolf in New York andWilliam Green

    Monday 26 October 201508.25 EDTLast modified on Monday 26 October 201510.00 EDT


    The Internal Revenue Service is the latest in a growing list of US federal agencies known to have possessed the sophisticated cellphone dragnet equipment known as Stingray, according to documents obtained by the Guardian.

    Invoices obtained following a request under the Freedom of Information Act show purchases made in 2009 and 2012 by the federal tax agency with Harris Corporation, one of a number of companies that manufacture the devices. Privacy advocates said the revelation “shows the wide proliferation of this very invasive surveillance technology”.

    The 2009 IRS/Harris Corp invoice is mostly redacted under section B(4) of the Freedom of Information Act, which is intended to protect trade secrets and privileged information. However, an invoice from 2012, which is also partially redacted, reports that the agency spent $65,652 on upgrading a Stingray II to a HailStorm, a more powerful version of the same device, as well as $6,000 on training from Harris Corporation.

    Stingrays are the best-known example of a type of device called an IMSI-catcher, also known as “cell-site simulators”. About the size of a briefcase, they work by pretending to be cellphone towers in order to strip metadata and in some cases even content from phones which connect to them.

    Despite their extensive capabilities, they require only a low-level court order called a PEN register, also known as a “trap and trace”, to grant permission for their use.

    Immense secrecy has so far surrounded these devices, but a picture is slowly emerging which shows widespread use. Various revelations by the American Civil Liberties Union and news outlets including the Guardian had shown that at least 12 federal agencies are already known to have these devices, including the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The IRS makes 13.

    In November 2014, the Wall Street Journal uncovered an operation run by the US Marshals Service using a Boeing-made IMSI-catcher known as “dirtbox”. This is the first time that the IRS has been found to own the device.

    The devices are also used by local and in some cases state police departments, across at least 20 states, though a culture of secrecy which surrounds Stingray devices has meant that the full scale of their use remains unknown.

    A Guardian report in April revealed a non-disclosure agreement that local police and prosecutors were forced to sign with the FBI before using Stingrays, which mandated them to withdraw or even drop cases rather than risk revealing their use, and in September it emerged that this withholding of “discovery” evidence by police in Baltimore could lead to as many as 2,000 cases being overturned.

    It remains unclear how the IRS used the Stingray devices. A spokesman for the agency did not respond to a request for comment.

    Mark Matthews, a former deputy commissioner for services and enforcement at the agency who now works for the law firm Caplin and Drysdale, said that while he attends many conferences on IRS and tax law enforcement, he had not heard any “scuttlebutt” about the agency’s use of Stingray.

    Matthews said there are currently between 2,000 and 3,000 “special agents” in the IRS who form the criminal investigation division (CID). They have the ability to get PEN register orders – the only authority needed to use Stingray devices.

    He said the IRS on its own usually uses gentler investigation tactics. But increasingly, investigating agents from the agency are brought on board for joint operations with the FBI and other agencies when the latter need financial expertise to look at, for example, money laundering from drug organisations.

    From these joint operations, he said, “the IRS had moved to drug work and had learned a lot of aggressive techniques in the money laundering and drug world, and these bad habits were leaking over into the tax world, which was supposed to be their real mission”.

    Federal agencies overstepping their bounds, by using surveillance technology that far outstripped the limits of what a PEN register was designed to do, did not represent a new phenomenon, Matthews said, but remained troubling nonetheless.

    “That used to be a worry at the FBI with their PEN register [devices],” he said. “There was always a little slot where you could put in a headphone jack” – which could turn the device into a full wiretap, for which they did not have warrant clearance – “and they said, ‘Trust us.’ Not very convincing for civil liberties groups.”

    Nate Wessler, a staff attorney with the speech, privacy and technology project at the ACLU, told the Guardian: “The info showing that they are using Stingrays is generally consistent with the kinds of investigative tactics that they are engaging in, and it shows the wide proliferation of this very invasive surveillance technology.”

    “It’s used by dozens, perhaps hundreds, of local law enforcement, used by the usual suspects at the federal level, and if the IRS is using it, it shows just how far these devices have spread,” Wessler said.

    Matthews said that he had not heard anything about Stingrays despite speaking to his contacts in the tax industry. “So this either hasn’t ripened yet in a tax case, 95% of which [end in a plea deal]so there would be no such disclosures, or this is saved more for money laundering/drug/terrorist-financing-like investigations.”

    “[It] could be as silly as [they] got to the end of the year, had some extra funds, and somebody said, ‘We need some more of these devices,’” Matthews said. “It could literally be that silly. But it could be something different; it could be that they’ve decided to use them in cases where they’re the primary detective agency, and we haven’t seen it yet in the private sector.”
  10. Michael Stogner

    Michael Stogner Active Member

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