In a rare victory against the secrecy that often shrouds state surveillance, a Cook County, Illinois judge has ordered the Chicago Police Department to allow her to review documents related to cellphone surveillance tools, which are sometimes known as “Stingrays.”
The ruling comes after Chicago activist Freddy Martinez filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the CPD in 2014. Martinez was attempting to gain information regarding when, where, how, and why Chicago police deploy the Stingrays. Martinez is also attempting to reveal what type of legal authorization is required to use the devices, as well as what happens once cellphone data is collected.
Anti-Media has reported extensively on Stingray, the brand name of a popular cell-site simulator manufactured by the Harris Corporation. The Electronic Frontier Foundation describes Stingray as “a brand name of an IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) Catcher targeted and sold to law enforcement. A Stingray works by masquerading as a cellphone tower – to which your mobile phone sends signals to every 7 to 15 seconds whether you are on a call or not – and tricks your phone into connecting to it.”