First Snowden. Then tracking you on wheels. Now spies on a plane. Yes, surveillance is everywhere

Saturday, November 15, 2014
By Paul Martin

The US government’s secret airborne dragnet is just the latest tool to snoop on your phone. Why aren’t we stopping this?

Trevor Timm
Saturday 15 November 2014

US government-owned airplanes that can cover most of the continental United States are covertly flying around the country, spying on tens of thousands of innocent people’s cellphones. It sounds like a movie plot, but in a remarkable report published on Thursday, the Wall Street Journal exposed that these spy planes are part of an actual mass surveillance program overseen by the Justice Department (DOJ). And it’s been kept secret from the public for years.

The Journal explained that the US Marshals Service, a sub-agency under DOJ’s control, has a small fleet of Cessna airplanes that are currently armed with high-tech surveillance gear called “dirtboxes” – essentially fake cell towers tricking your phone into connecting to them – that can vacuum the identifying information and location of ten of thousands of phones in a single flight.

The Marshalls allegedly use the mass spying planes to locate suspects, but of course the vast, vast majority of phones they end up spying on belong to completely innocent individuals. Per the Journal’s Devlin Barrett:

The U.S. Marshals Service program, which became fully functional around 2007, operates Cessna aircraft from at least five metropolitan-area airports, with a flying range covering most of the U.S. population, according to people familiar with the program.

The Rest…HERE

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