No Declared Stingrays in Allegany County
Across the United States, law enforcement agencies have being using devices, commonly called “Stingrays,” to conduct surveillance on civilian populations. These devices are purported to mimic cell phone towers to track phones and, potentially, intercept communications and other content.
Imagine a device, small enough to fit inside a car. The device is put inside a police vehicle and driven through your neighborhood. As it approaches your home, your phone breaks its link with your cell phone service provider’s tower. Your phone, without any interruption in service, latches on to the Stingray in the police car, thinking it’s a legitimate tower. You are able to make and receive calls, texts, and otherwise use your phone. However, the government is in a position to locate your phone and potentially intercept other information from it.
In March, the Western Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association sent letters under the Maryland Public Information Act to law enforcement in Allegany County. The letters requested information related to cell site simulators used by these agencies. Below is a draft of this letter, along with responses from the Allegany County Narcotics Task Force, the Allegany County Sheriff’s Office, the Allegany County Combined Criminal Investigation Unit (C3I), Cumberland City Police Department, and the Office of the State’s Attorney for Allegany County.
In short, these agencies deny knowledge of, participation with, and/or responsibility for the usage of such devices in Allegany County.
-Article by Paul J. Notarianni, presented at the request of the Western Maryland Criminal Defense Attorneys Association.