Secret cellphone tracking devices have been used by law enforcement agencies all across the globe for many years now to investigate crimes. According to documents made available by the New York Civil Liberties Union, it is estimated that the New York Police Department have used them when investigating crimes, such as rapes and murder for at least one thousand times since 2008.
According to civil liberties union lawyer, Mariko Hirose, the public should be informed about the information that the invasive surveillance technologies, such as StingRays collect from cellphones. In the statement on Thursday morning, he said that it is mind boggling to know that NYPD has been using StingRays for more than five years now without informing the public.
Responding to the lawsuit, Deputy Chief Kerry Sweet, who is currently the commanding officer of the police department’s legal bureau, stated categorically that the police have never used such surveillance devices to intercept and collect information from unsuspecting cellphone users.
In the lawsuit, the Civil Liberties Union claims the devices are used by police departments across the nation. In a bid to hide this dirty secret from the public, the law enforcement agencies have frequently agreed with Harris Corporation, the company that designs and makes these devices, not to reveal details about them to the public. It is rumored that the New York Police Department signed a NDA (nondisclosure agreement) with the said corporation in January 2011.
It is interesting to note that several years ago the F.B.I had admitted that using such surveillance camera was essential to combatting criminal and terrorist activities. However, in September, the Justice Department publicly announced new regulations and guidelines on how federal agents should use the devices. One of the regulations bars federal agents from using the devices to intercept texts and emails.