NYPD cell tracking used 1,000 times since 2008
NEW YORK — The New York Police Department has used secretive cellphone tracking technology more than 1,000 times since 2008, according to data released Thursday by the New York Civil Liberties Union.
A cell-site simulator, also known as a Stingray, is a suitcase-sized device that can sweep up basic cellphone data from a neighborhood by tricking phones into believing it's a cell tower, allowing it to identify unique subscriber numbers. The data are then transmitted to the police, helping them determine the location of a phone without the user even making a call or sending a text message.
Federal law enforcement in September said it would be routinely required to get a search warrant before using the technology. But the policy applies only to federal agencies within the Justice Department and not, as some privacy advocates had hoped, to state and local law enforcement. The NYPD would be required to get a warrant if the investigation was a joint effort with federal officials.
The civil liberties union urged the department to create a strict policy on use of the technology and to obtain a warrant.
The police have been adhering to the higher legal standard used by federal law enforcement when applying for a court order said Larry Byrne, the deputy commissioner of the police department's legal bureau, who added his office would put the policy in writing.