(credit: British Columbia Emergency Photos)
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington state has sued the Tacoma Police Department (TPD) on behalf of four community leaders, claiming that TPD has not adequately responded to their public records requests concerning the use of cell-site simulators, or stingrays.
The Thursday lawsuit comes nine months after Washington imposed a new warrant requirement for stingray use in the state and about 15 months after local Pierce County judges imposed stricter guidelines for their use.
Stingrays are in use by both local and federal law enforcement agencies nationwide. The devices determine a target phone’s location by spoofing or simulating a cell tower. Mobile phones in range of the stingray then connect to it and exchange data with the device as they would with a real cell tower. Once deployed, stingrays intercept data from the target phone along with information from other phones within the vicinity—up to and including full calls and text messages. At times, police have falsely claimed that information gathered from a stingray has instead come from a confidential informant.
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