The New York State Supreme Court is preparing to make an important decision on cellphone surveillance. The Court will decide what New York police can legally keep a secret.
Stingray cellphone surveillance is facing opposition in the U.S. People are supporting the idea of transparency. The new trend can be seen by the recent bills passed in Arizona and New Hampshire. The upward trend is expected to continue all the way up to the top.
The political class and the public have become aware of the true nature of intrusion. The intrusion has been a result of arming local, state, and federal state police with military grade surveillance equipment.
There is need to oversight. A new bill was recently introduced in the New York Assembly. The bill seeks to ban the use of stingrays. Stingrays refers to the brand name of a popular cellphone surveillance tool manufactured by Harris Corporation.
Stingrays are an IMSI catcher targeted and sold to law enforcement. They are also called cell-site simulators because they work by camouflaging as a cellphone tower.
Mobile phones send signals to cellphone towers every 7 to 15 seconds. This happens whether you are on a call or not. The stingray tricks your phone into connecting to it.
Whoever has the Stingray can figure out most of your phone call details. Such include who, when, and where you are calling and the precise location of every device within the range. In some devices, they can even record your conversation.
The New York Supreme Court is about to make an important decision on the legality of the devices. One of the Judges showed support by allowing New Yorkers to be made aware of how the city officials have used the tax payer’s money on Stingrays. Shocking reports show that the NYPD has used stingrays more than 1,000 times without warrant.
The attorney for the New York Civil Liberties Union was speaking before the Manhattan County Supreme Court. He said that the council members and the public should have very basic information on how much the NYPD has been spending and on what tools.
New York City’s Law Department attorney Neil Giovanatti told the court that no one knows the devices that the NYPD has and that the stingrays that they use might not have the capability to monitor people’s information. Judge Hagler said that he might instruct the city to reveal the cost of the devices. The City says that the release of that information could put NYD in danger.
The city’s records will be examined by the judge in closed-door hearing on the 22nd of March before a meeting with attorneys from both sides. That’s when the final ruling will be delivered.
At the end of the day, every New Yorker ought to be informed about how the City spends the tax dollar.