Newly published documents show that in July 2008, the Illinois State Police purchased more than $250,000 worth of “covert cellular tracking equipment” from the Harris Corporation. The federally funded gear likely includes a Stingray and related devices that track a phone’s location and can also be used to intercept calls and text messages.
The 110-page set of documents represents yet another puzzle piece in the slowly emerging national picture of how such devices are acquired and used.
The document set also indicates that the Illinois governor’s office signed off on the equipment purchase and authorized an exemption from the “competitive bid process.” It includes a rarely seen Harris contract that uses language meant to keep the Stingray purchase quiet. The documents, which cover a period between 2008 and 2012, were obtained through a public records request and were first published earlier this week by Scott Ainslie, a freelance “data pilgrim” based in the United Kingdom, with help from Heather Akers-Healy.
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