Huge Win for Privacy: Court Bans Use of This Crazy Spy Tool Without a Warrant

Come back with a warrant! That’s what the D.C. Court of Appeals told law enforcement last month, when it ruled that the use of cell site simulators without a warrant violates Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights. While there are still problems with the way these devices are used, this ruling is a huge win for due process and privacy rights.

Cell site simulators are devices that replicate cell towers and trick phones into sharing location and data with them, allowing law enforcement to track a suspect’s every move. With some of the more advanced cell site simulators---ostensibly banned in the US---police can even listen in on conversations.

Police in New York City have used the tool without a warrant more than 1,000 times since 2008.

The Stingray, the most popular brand of the cell site simulator, was originally created by the defense contractor Harris Corporation to deal with military and terror investigations. Sadly, since that time, the device has been deployed predominantly in domestic policing. It has been used in a variety of non-military and non-terror investigations, including hunting down a suspect who stole $60 worth of food, and the deportation of a non-violent illegal immigrant. Police in New York City have used the tool without a warrant more than 1,000 times since 2008.

While some privacy protections previously existed, they were very weak. In 2015, the Justice Department issued a ruling directing agencies to obtain a warrant before using any cell site simulators. However, that ruling is not binding for state and local police departments, who have routinely ignored the order.

In the case heard by the D.C. Court of Appeals, Prince Jones was accused of assaulting and robbing two different women he met online in 2013. When Jones allegedly robbed each woman, he also took their phones. Police then used the Stingray to track down the women’s phones, leading them to Jones. Because they failed to obtain a warrant before doing so, all charges against Jones have since been dropped. Police did a disservice to the victims in this case by failing to respect due process and obtain a warrant. If law enforcement had gone through the proper legal channels, the charges against Jones would have likely been upheld.

You could argue the use of the Stingray to track down Jones was justified because of the appalling nature of his crimes, but the Stingray is not foolproof. If Jones were to have pawned off the women’s phones after he stole them, tracking the phones could have easily led police to the whereabouts of an innocent person who played no role in Jones’ actions.

When the Stingray is deployed, it scoops up location data from all nearby cell phones.

Even in instances where police obtain a warrant for the use of a Stingray, there are still huge concerns, particularly the potential for dragnet collection of location data not relevant to the investigation. When the Stingray is deployed, it scoops up location data from all nearby cell phones, putting innocent people’s privacy rights at risk.

While federal law enforcement has promised the device isn’t used to collect the actual data of phone calls, texts or anything else, the device has those capabilities. And even if officials are following through on their promise to only collect metadata, that in and of itself is incredibly intrusive. Metadata can paint a picture of who you call, when you call them, and how long your conversation is, revealing intimate details of who you choose to interact with. So while requiring a warrant is certainly a step in the right direction, any time the Stingray is used there will be collateral damage.

Victory for privacy rights.

In the digital era, law enforcement has a whole host of tools at its disposal, but the Stingray should not be one of them. Requiring police to get a warrant before using this device is a certainly a victory for privacy rights, but ideally, police should not be able to deploy the device domestically. After all, it’s meant to hunt terrorists and enemy agents, not burglars and muggers.

Dan King is an advocate for Young Voices and a journalist residing in Arlington, Virginia. He writes about free speech, mass surveillance, civil liberties and LGBT issues. He can be found on Twitter @Kinger_Liberty.

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Acclaimed environmentalist and author of "Apocalypse Never" Michael Shellenberger joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Wednesday to warn us about the true goals and effects of climate alarmism: It's become a "secular religion" that lowers standards of living in developed countries, holds developing countries back, and has environmental progress "exactly wrong."

Michael is a Time "Hero of the Environment," Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress. He has been called a "environmental guru," "climate guru," "North America's leading public intellectual on clean energy," and "high priest" of the environmental humanist movement for his writings and TED talks, which have been viewed more than 5 million times. But when Michael penned a stunning article in Forbes saying, "On Behalf of Environmentalists, I Apologize for the Climate Scare", the article was pulled just a few hours later. (Read more here.)

On the show, Micheal talked about how environmental alarmism has overtaken scientific fact, leading to a number of unfortunate consequences. He said one of the problems is that rich nations are blocking poor nations from being able to industrialize. Instead, they are seeking to make poverty sustainable, rather than to make poverty history.

"As a cultural anthropologist, I've been traveling to poorer countries and interviewing small farmers for over 30 years. And, obviously there are a lot of causes why countries are poor, but there's no reason we should be helping them to stay poor," Michael said. "A few years ago, there was a movement to make poverty history ... [but] it got taken over by the climate alarmist movement, which has been focused on depriving poor countries, not just of fossil fuels they need to develop, but also the large hydroelectric dams."

He offered the example of the Congo, one of the poorest countries in the world. The Congo has been denied the resources needed to build large hydroelectric dams, which are absolutely essential to pull people out of poverty. And one of the main groups preventing poor countries from the gaining financing they need to to build dams is based in Berkeley, California — a city that gets its electricity from hydroelectric dams.

"It's just unconscionable ... there are major groups, including the Sierra Club, that support efforts to deprive poor countries of energy. And, honestly, they've taken over the World Bank [which] used to fund the basics of development: roads, electricity, sewage systems, flood control, dams," Micheal said.

"Environmentalism, apocalyptic environmentalism in particular, has become the dominant religion of supposedly secular people in the West. So, you know, it's people at the United Nations. It's people that are in very powerful positions who are trying to impose 'nature's order' on societies," he continued. "And, of course, the problem is that nobody can figure out what nature is, and what it's not. That's not a particular good basis for organizing your economy."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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Dr. Voddie Baucham, Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia, joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to explain why he agrees with Vice President Mike Pence's refusal to say the phrase "Black Lives Matter."

Baucham, who recently drew national attention when his sermon titled "Ethnic Gnosticism" resurfaced online, said the phrase has been trademarked by a dangerous, violent, Marxist movement that doesn't care about black lives except to use them as political pawns.

"We have to separate this movement from the issues," Baucham warned. "I know that [Black Lives Matter] is a phrase that is part of an organization. It is a trademark phrase. And it's a phrase designed to use black people.

"That phrase dehumanizes black people, because it makes them pawns in a game that has nothing whatsoever to do with black people and their dignity. And has everything to do with a divisive agenda that is bigger than black people. That's why I'm not going to use that phrase, because I love black people. I love being black."

Baucham warned that Black Lives Matter -- a radical Marxist movement -- is using black people and communities to push a dangerous and divisive narrative. He encouraged Americans to educate themselves on the organization's agenda and belief statement.

"This movement is dangerous. This movement is vicious. And this movement uses black people," he emphasized. "And so if I'm really concerned about issues in the black community -- and I am -- then I have to refuse, and I have to repudiate that organization. Because they stand against that for which I am advocating."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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We're going to be doing an amazing broadcast on Thursday, July 2nd, and we will be broadcasting a really important moment. It is restoring truth. It is restoring our history. It is asking to you make a covenant with God. The covenant that was made by the Pilgrims. And it's giving you a road map of things that we can do, to be able to come back home, together.

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On last week's Wednesday night special, Glenn Beck revealed where the Black Lives Matter organization really gets its funding, and the dark money trail leading to a cast of familiar characters. Shortly after the program aired, one of BLM's fiscal sponsors, Thousand Currents, took down its board of directors page, which featured one of these shady characters:

Ex-Marxist professor and author of "Beyond Woke," Michael Rectenwald, joined Glenn Beck on the TV show to fill us in on the suspicious change he discovered on the Thousand Currents webpage and the Communist terrorists who is now helping run the organization. (Fortunately, the internet is forever, so it is still possible to view the board of directors page by looking at a web archive from the WayBack Machine.)

Rectenwald revealed the shocking life history of Thousand Currents' vice chair of the board, Susan Rosenberg, who spent 16 years in federal prison for her part in a series of increasingly violent acts of terrorism, including bombing the U.S. Capitol building, bombing an FBI building, and targeting police for assassination.

"Their whole campaign was one of unbelievably vicious, murderous cop killings, assassinations, and bombings," explained Rectenwald of Rosenberg's terror group known as the May 19th Communist Organization or M19.

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:


Glenn's full investigation into the dark origins of the funding behind Black Lives Matter is available for BlazeTV subscribers. Not a subscriber? Use promo code GLENN to get $10 off your BlazeTV subscription or start your 30-day free trial today.

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