Albuquerque Police Call Spying Tech So Secret They Can’t Even Say They Have It

Monday, July 10, 2017
By Paul Martin

July 10, 2017

LBUQUERQUE (CN) — The ACLU sued Albuquerque for information on how its police use Stingray cellphone spying technology, and whether they use it for immigration enforcement, but Albuquerque claims all such records are confidential — including whether they use Stingrays at all.

International Mobile Subscriber Identity catchers — also known as cell-site catchers or Stingrays — simulate cell phone towers, pulling in all cellphone use within a certain distance. They can scan an area near targets of investigations for location and usage information, and in some cases can listen to conversations and track texts on phones in range, including those which have nothing to do with the investigation.

The ACLU of New Mexico submitted an Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA) request on May 22, seeking records on whether Albuquerque police own any Stingray devices; what policies, if any, they have on handling data gathered by the trackers; whether the devices are used for immigration investigations; and whether police must get a warrant before using them.

The city replied on June 5 that all this information was confidential, under the law enforcement exception of the IPRA, which included “law enforcement records that reveal confidential sources, methods, information or individuals accused but not charged with a crime. Law enforcement records include evidence in any form received or compiled in connection with any criminal investigation or prosecution by any law enforcement or prosecuting agency, including inactive matters or closed investigations.”

But the ACLU says those exceptions have nothing to do with the information it requested.

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