Click to call 602-307-0808 24/7 Click Here for Free Consultation

Is Police Use Of Surveillance Devices Legal?

Police in the U.S., as well as in other countries like Canada, have been using surveillance devices and “stingray tracking devices” to identify criminals and other suspicious activities. However, this has become a topic of debate as attorneys acting for crime suspects have raised the issue that use of these surveillance devices is breaking the law.

According to attorneys representing gang members and their associates, use of these devices is unlawful as it violates the rights of the individuals. Various memos and reports have been issued in this regard. One RCMP internal memo revealed that police are using the controversial machine, also known as Stingray, IMSI catcher, Wolfpack, cell site simulators or a mobile device identifier. The use of an RCMP expert with one of the devices was initiated in a 2014 case when a detective probing a street gang persuaded a judge to allow the use of this device.

Based on how criminals are caught, it is clear that police have been secretly using these machines for years. However, the use of these devices has never been made public apart from in one or two cases. Lawyers are of the opinion that the device is run at the risk of offending laws that govern privacy and the public air-waves. Read on to know more how the Stingray works.

How do the Stingray tracking devices work?

The surveillance devices simulate cell phone towers in order to trick nearby mobile phones into connecting to them and revealing the phones’ locations. It is able to capture identifying data associated with all mobile phones in the area, which proves helpful when police have to zero in on a suspect.

Based on documents obtained by the ACLU recently, the controversial devices are also able to record numbers for a mobile phone’s incoming and outgoing calls. They are also able to intercept the content available in voice and text communications. There may also be a possibility of flashing a phone’s firmware in order to intercept conversations using a suspect’s cell phone as a bug.

Who is using the Stingray tracking devices?

A look at press reports and publicly available documents reveals that stingray tracking devices are being used by state as well as local police departments. A total of 66 federal agencies have been identified by the ACLU that own stingrays. These agencies are located in 24 states, as well as the District of Columbia. Since many agencies use stingrays in secrecy, these numbers may be dramatically unrepresented when compared to the actual use of stingrays by law enforcement agencies nationwide.

The devices have been used numerous times secretly without obtaining a warrant. They have also been used to deceive courts about the nature of the technology in order to obtain orders from the court to use it. Many law enforcement agencies using these devices have also resorted to extreme measures to prevent groups like the ACLU from obtaining documents about the technology.

In 2008, guidelines prepared and released by the Justice Department advise law enforcement agents on how and when the surveillance equipment can be legally used. These documents not only provide the police guidelines, but they also provide templates required to submit requests to courts to obtain permission to use the technology.

Author Bio:

Thanks to our guest post writeres from The Law Office of Jesse Hernandez who are committed to providing you with top notch legal support. They approach every client with a focus on integrity, advocacy, and understanding.

Click Here for Free Consultation
With a Drug Crime Specialist
Comparison Questions to Ask
When Hiring a Lawyer

Request a Free Consultation

Fill out the form below to recieve a free and confidential intial consultation.

Click here for important legal disclaimer.

[honeypot honeypot-655]


10.0 Superb Rating
AVVO Criminal Defense

AV-Highest Rated
Preeminent Lawyers


Nation's Top 1% Attorney
National Association of Distinguished Counsel

Super Lawyer
Criminal & DUI Defense

Top 100 Trial Lawyers
(Criminal Defense)

American Trial Lawyers Association

Life Member
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

Client Satisfaction Award
American Institute of DUI / DWI Attorneys

Top 100 Lawyer
American Society of Legal Advocates

Top 10 DUI/DWI Law Firm
American Institute of DUI / DWI Attorneys

Founding Member
American Association of Premier DUI Lawyers

National College for DUI Defense

Top 10 Attorney
National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys

Charter Member
Trial Masters

Sustaining Member
Arizona's Finest Lawyers

DUI Defense Lawyers Association

Lifetime Charter Member
Best Attorneys of America

Fellow Member
American Bar Foundation

Sustaining Member
Arizona Trial Lawyers Association

American Association for Justice

Life Member
Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice

Top Valley Lawyer
North Valley Magazine

Superior DUI Attorney
National Advocacy for DUI Defense

Member Since 1989
American Bar Association

[contact-form-7 id="1509" title="Exit Intent"]