US Marshals step in, thwart efforts to learn about cell tracking devices
How sensitive are local cops when it comes to disclosing information about stingrays, the fake cell phone towers used to track targeted phones? Apparently, they’re sensitive enough to involve the United States Marshals Service with an ongoing case in Florida.
After being informed of a straightforward public records request to learn more about the Sarasota Police Department’s use of stingrays, the US Marshals suddenly moved the stack of paper records hundreds of miles away. It’s a move that will frustrate ongoing efforts by the American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU) to access the documents in question.
Earlier this week, the ACLU asked a Florida court for an emergency motion (PDF) that would require the city to make its stingray records available. On Wednesday, wereported that the story of stingray use in a Tallahassee rape case only came out once testimony from a local police officer was unsealed. At the time, the detective said he would only testify about how the stingray was used if his testimony was not made public.
In that case, the assistant attorney general told the court that the Tallahassee Police Department was under a non-disclosure agreement—likely from the leading manufacturer, Harris Corporation—forbidding it from acknowledging the use of a stingray, never mind describing it in detail. The secrecy surrounding the device highlights some of the strange lengths that government agencies are willing to go to conceal information surrounding its use.