Most Everything the Feds Told Us About Stingrays is False – It’s Much Worse

Tuesday, November 3, 2015
By Paul Martin

By Justin Gardner
November 3, 2015

The revelation that the IRS—that mammoth bureaucracy enforcing the nightmarish tax code—purchased “stingrays” in 2009 and 2012, added another layer of controversy to the use of this intrusive surveillance device.

It has gotten so bad that a bill was just introduced in Congress that would criminalize the use of stingrays without a warrant, at all levels of government.

A stingray is a suitcase-sized device that mimics a cell phone tower, which allows it to gather locations and data of all nearby mobile phones. This violation of constitutional rights is usually justified under the “war on terror” meme, although government is finding increasingly diverse uses.

Last week, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testified before a Senate committee that his agency had indeed used stingrays in tax-related criminal investigations, but only with the blessing of a judge. Koskinen said the stingray “can only be used with a court order…based on probable cause of a criminal activity.”

A “court order” is not the same as a warrant and carries a lower legal burden. Court orders are usually gained through an even more vague “pen register statute” that is routinely abused.

Most federal law enforcement offices are required to get a warrant, but some agencies such as the Secret Service have granted themselves the authority to use stingrays without a warrant. How this squares with the Congressional bill, should it succeed, will be interesting.

The Rest…HERE

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