ROCHESTER, N.Y. (June 2, 2016) – Two local New York law enforcement agencies spent over $550,000 purchasing and maintaining stingray devices to track the location of phones and sweep up electronic communications. Documents obtained by the ACLU reveal the departments went to great lengths to hide the existence of the devices and rarely obtain court orders for their use.
Harris Corporation along with the FBI gagged local and state police departments in New York from releasing information regarding cell-site simulators. These are more commonly known as Stingrays, but come in a variety of models such as KingFish and AmberJack. All devices are made by Harris Corporation.
When the New York Civil Liberties Union(NYCLU) tried to obtain documents relating to stingray technology, upstate New York police departments refused to release any documents relating to the purchase of these devices under the New York State Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). The FBI/Harris Corporation non-disclosure agreement and the FOIL refusal key points match almost verbatim.
In order to obtain these documents, the NYCLU successfully sued the Erie County Sheriff’s. The Rochester Police Department also released information after the successful suit.
“These records confirm some of the very worst fears about local law enforcement’s use of this expensive and intrusive surveillance equipment,” NYCLU Staff Attorney Mariko Hirose said.
According to the NYCLU, Rochester PD used a cell-site simulator 13 times from January 2012 to May 2015. The department only obtained a probable cause warrant six times. It appears that the RPD’s stingray unit attaches to…