British Columbia Emergency Services

Judges in Pierce County, Washington, have now begun requiring law enforcement agencies to ask for specific permission when using a cell site simulator, commonly known as a “stingray,” according to a Saturday report by the Tacoma News Tribune.

Previously, as is the case nearly everywhere else in the country, law enforcement would go to a judge asking for a “pen register, trap and trace” order, which in the pre-cellphone era allowed law enforcement to obtain someone’s calling metadata in near real-time. Now, that same data can be gathered directly by the cops themselves through the use of a stingray used against mobile phones. Stingrays, however, also can be used to intercept calls and text messages, and the stingray doesn’t only work against one target phone but also against other phones that may happen to be nearby.
The new, more stringent standard is unusual among American courts.
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