Court Scolds Maryland Cops For Stingray Use, Issues Landmark Decision On Surveillance

Friday, April 1, 2016
By Paul Martin

By Lily Dane
APRIL 1, 2016

In what civil liberties and privacy advocates are calling a landmark decision, Maryland’s second-highest court has handed down the first appellate opinion in the country affirming that police must obtain a probable cause warrant to track cell phones.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals issued the opinion in a ruling that rebuked Baltimore Police for failing to disclose that they had used a device called a cell site simulator, often referred to as a “stingray,” to locate an attempted murder suspect, The Baltimore Sun reports.

In court testimony last April, a Baltimore detective revealed that the Baltimore Police Department had used Stingrays more than 4,300 times since 2007, repeatedly failing to notify courts of their use in criminal cases.

The court rejected the state of Maryland’s argument that anyone turning on a phone was “voluntarily” sharing their whereabouts with the police. And the 73-page opinion also harshly scolded Baltimore police for trying to conceal their use of Stingrays from the court.

The panel of judges wrote:

We conclude that people have a reasonable expectation that their cell phones will not be used as real-time tracking devices by law enforcement, and — recognizing that the Fourth Amendment protects people and not simply areas — that people have an objectively reasonable expectation of privacy in real-time cell phone location information.

The Rest…HERE

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