New Illinois Law Prohibits Warrantless Stingray Spying, Hinders Federal Surveillance Program

Monday, January 2, 2017
By Paul Martin

By Mike Maharrey
JANUARY 2, 2017

Today, an Illinois law went into effect banning the use of “stingrays” to track the location of phones and sweep up electronic communications without a warrant in most situations. The new law will not only protect privacy in Illinois, but will also hinder one aspect of the federal surveillance state.

Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Skokie) introduced Senate Bill 2343 (SB2343) on Jan. 28. The new law will help block the use of cell site simulators, known as “stingrays.” These devices essentially spoof cell phone towers, tricking any device within range into connecting to the stingray instead of the tower, allowing law enforcement to sweep up communications content, as well as locate and track the person in possession of a specific phone or other electronic device.

The new law prohibits the use of stingrays except to locate or track the location of a communications device or to identify a communications device. That means law enforcement cannot listen in on conversations using cell site simulators under any circumstances.

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