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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There’s an economic axis of evil taking shape right now, and the people in charge of our government are too stupid to acknowledge and deal with what’s happening. The U.S. dollar and the entire financial system are at stake, and, as Glenn Beck reveals on "Glenn TV" Wednesday, our enemies’ PUBLISHED plans to take the entire thing down.

While all of this is happening, our own leaders are making everything worse. We’ve got Nancy Pelosi risking an international incident, accelerating China’s plans to collapse us. And when Biden SHOULD be focusing on the security of our country, he’s instead preoccupied with controlling the weather with his Inflation "Reduction" Act.

Glenn exposes the TRUE numbers on what that bill will do to your family’s budget. Add to that, they’re more than doubling the IRS to make sure you feel the pain. And if you think they won’t come for you, look at what they just did to the former president of the United States. The DOJ and FBI just went after the political opponent of their boss, Joe Biden.

This is what they are focused on, and the threat to the dollar — and the entire financial system — isn’t even on their radar. Pain is coming for us, and they don’t care one bit.

Watch the full episode below:

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Speaking before signing the “PACT Act of 2022” on Wednesday morning, President Joe Biden claimed that his wonderful economic plan "is working" and that somehow July’s annual inflation rate of 8.5% was actually “zero.”

“I just want to say a number: zero. Today we received news that our economy had 0% inflation in the month of July,” Biden said during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dutifully echoed the president's not-at-all misleading claim:

The truth of the matter is that last month's inflation rate of 8.5% was a (small) step in the right direction, but only because it was lower than June's 41-year high of 9.1% — and the thing is, anyone who's graduated kindergarten knows it.

So, who do White House personnel think they're fooling? On the radio program Wednesday, Glenn Beck and producer Stu Burguiere broke down how the Biden administration came to this latest disingenuous conclusion about the economy, what the latest consumer price index actually shows, and why the inevitable Biden brag-fest will be unbearable.

Watch the video clip below. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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Glenn Beck: This is the ONLY endgame that makes sense for the FBI’s raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home

(Left) Photo by James Devaney/GC Images (Right) Video screenshot

If you're celebrating this FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago, you have no idea how much this changes things. We don't do this in America. At least, we didn't. But the left cannot have Donald Trump be president again. His "America First" platform goes against everything they've been working for. So, what's their endgame here? On the radio program, Glenn Beck said there's really only one endgame that makes sense — and it should scare us all.

"If you are not for the destruction of America, you better pay attention quickly. This is a massive move," Glenn said of the Mar-a-Lago raid.

"And who has credibility on this? ... The right will believe Donald Trump, but nobody on the left, so you're not going to change any minds there. Do you think the right will believe the New York Times? MSNBC? NBC? CBS? Do you think we're going to believe the New York Times — the people who have been carrying water for the Biden crimes? The Clinton crimes? And ... I'm talking about her server and having her own State Department people go into a skiff, which is the top secret room, completely sealed off, going in and getting documents, cutting off 'top secret,' and then emailing them to her on her private server. And nothing? And now you're going to try to convince me [that] this has nothing to do with January 6?" he added.

"Remember the [allegations about] bank servers, [Trump] was pinging a bank? Untrue. Carter Page is a Russian spy? Untrue. Donald Trump is a Russian spy? ... Untrue. Collusion with Russia? Untrue. Ukraine, the perfect phone call? Not true. Not true. Wasn't a perfect phone call. Was not impeachable. The pee tape dossier? None of that was true. Here's why they can't have [Trump] as president of the United States. They can't have him as president of the United States because we are headed towards a completely new, all redesigned, non-capitalist, nonconstitutional Great Reset," Glenn argued. "They cannot have him be president because he is America first."

Glenn warned Americans that our federal government is accumulating massive power, case in point the 87,000 new IRS agents. "Coupled with the [IRS agents] they already have ... that's almost the size of our National Guard. Do you feel comfortable with that? Democrats? You don't think there's a possibility ... that someone ... might come in at some point and weaponize the IRS?"

He also warned that the FBI's raid on Donald Trump’s home has implications that stretch far beyond simple dislike for the former president. So what are they hoping to accomplish?

"What is the endgame? You make him into a martyr by throwing him into jail or killing him ... so you make him stronger? That doesn't make sense. Why would they want that?" Glenn asked. "So, what is their endgame? The only one that makes sense to me, is to stop him at any cost, then lunatics will take to the streets, and then [they] will have [their] evidence that the [right is] more dangerous than anyone could possibly imagine. Please, pray for your country."

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Glenn. Can't watch? Download the podcast here.

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To enjoy more of Glenn’s masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis, and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution, and live the American dream.