Feds change defense in order to conceal details about its ‘stingray’ device

Feds change defense in order to conceal details about its ‘stingray’ device
In 2008, self-describer hacker Daniel David Rigmaiden was arrested and charged with identity theft, unauthorized computer access, mail fraud and wire fraud for stealing more than $4 million through false tax filings.

For the last year, Rigmaiden has claimed that his arrest was a result of a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights, which protects citizen from unreasonable search and seizure, because the government used a device called the stingray to track his cell phone without a valid warrant. The U.S. Department of Justice has stood by the defense that the use of the stingray is not considered a search because the user did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy while use Verizon Wireless cellphone service.

Rigmaiden has requested additional information about the stingray in order to further examine what information was gathered about him and possible innocent bystanders within range of the device. What is known about the stingray thus far is, it mimics a cell tower to measure the signal strength of a target mobile device. The stingray is moved to other locations, and the resulting data is used to triangulate the position of the target. The scope of data it collects is unknown, particularly because investigators delete the tracking data, rather than submitting it to the court.

In the latest development of this case, the government is now admitting that the use of the stingray in this case could be considered a search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment. They are willing to make concessions specifically for this case in order to “avoid unnecessary disclosures” about the device. The judge in the case, David G. Campbell, has expressed the potential need for more information about the stingray before being able to determine whether or not its use can be considered a search in this case.

The FBI stated in a recent memo, it deletes all data from the stingrays because it tends to gather data on other mobile devices in addition to the suspect's. The FBI has stated that their intent is to ensure “the privacy rights of those innocent third parties are maintained.

source: The Wall Street Journal

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