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Federal Agents Used a Stingray To Track an Immigrant's Phone (detroitnews.com) 103

An anonymous reader shares a report: Investigators from Immigration and Custom Enforcement as well as the FBI have been using controversial cell-spoofing devices to secretly track down undocumented immigrants, court records show. According to a report the Detroit News, which obtained an unsealed federal search warrant affidavit, FBI and ICE agents in Michigan used a Stingray device to ensnare a restaurant worker from El Salvador in March. The devices, which were originally intended for counter-terrorism use, have come under fire because there are currently no clear rules governing when law enforcement is allowed to deploy them. Even in cases where authorities have a clear target in mind, they run the risk of exposing personal information of other innocent people in range. Until 2015, Federal investigators were free to deploy the devices without a search warrant. At that point the Justice Department laid out a policy requiring investigators get approval to use the devices first.
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Federal Agents Used a Stingray To Track an Immigrant's Phone

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  • Your tax dollars at work

    • As has been said before: Anything that is not forbidden is mandatory.

    • If there's anything to feel good about, it's that the law now requires at least a search warrant to be deployed. Though the level of evidence required to attain a judge's signature will continue to vary by administration, alleged offense, and even what circuit the request is logged in, it's still better than pre-2015 when it was up to the discretion of law enforcement.

      I may be jaded, but I simply assume if a technology is at the disposal of investigators, it will be deployed. Any legislation that requires t

      • If there's anything to feel good about, it's that the law now requires at least a search warrant to be deployed.

        Exactly. I don't might the feds spying on me as long as it for a good cause, like stopping people from illegal waitressing.

        • Won't that make America great again?

          • by Anonymous Coward

            "a restaurant worker from El Salvador"

            No, it's going to make it worse, you numskull.

            Who now is going to make me the best food in ever?

            In ever!!!

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Not only illegal waitressing, but they could not have got hired without providing a Social Security number (which has to false). Falsifying government records is a felony, not to mention identity theft. But, you know, it's ok to victimize innocent people just because that's the only way to get away with breaking the law.

          • I think we should refer to drug dealers as "undocumented pharmacists."
          • providing a Social Security number (which has to false). Falsifying government records is a felony

            So he printed a little piece of paper and then used it to GET A JOB? Golly, that is serious. I am certainly willing to give up my privacy rights to stop things like terrorist truck bombs and questionable job applications, since those two things are basically the same.

            • by Flentil ( 765056 )

              providing a Social Security number (which has to false). Falsifying government records is a felony

              So he printed a little piece of paper and then used it to GET A JOB? Golly, that is serious. I am certainly willing to give up my privacy rights to stop things like terrorist truck bombs and questionable job applications, since those two things are basically the same.

              If the SS number just happens to match your SS#, now you've got problems with the IRS and possibly your credit rating and maybe a life changing cascade of bad shit you need to sort out as a result of this little bit of identity theft. Completely harmless, right? I guess you never thought this through, or you just don't give a fuck because you expect all that to happen to someone else, not you.

        • by Imrik ( 148191 )

          I'm less concerned about them having a good reason than I am about them having to leave a paper trail stating their reason, good or not.

  • Just one step away from using these to round up political dissenters and whistleblowers.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So what is difference? How is citizen dissenter like illegal alien invader?

      • It's not unless you're a tightwad business owner who's after the cheapest possible labor at all costs.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sooooo... These guys are upset that the Feds followed the law and got a warrant???

    • Re:Warrant (Score:5, Informative)

      by KiloByte ( 825081 ) on Friday May 19, 2017 @04:52PM (#54451523)

      Sooooo... These guys are upset that the Feds followed the law and got a warrant???

      Except we were promised these things won't be used except for matters of national security.

      Also, Stingrays have no way to selectively MitM only the target, so they spy (in violation of the 4th Amendment) on every single innocent person in a large radius.

      • Waves of illegal aliens IS a national security matter.

      • Stingrays transmit on licensed frequencies, that are legally restricted to a specific phone company. It's illegal for anyone else to use them. Without a warrant I don't see how the police can legally ignore federal law and use those frequencies. Stingrays work by intercepting phone calls (voice and meta-data) and re-routing them through their equipment. How can they tap phones without a warrant?
      • by Flentil ( 765056 )

        Sooooo... These guys are upset that the Feds followed the law and got a warrant???

        Except we were promised these things won't be used except for matters of national security.

        Also, Stingrays have no way to selectively MitM only the target, so they spy (in violation of the 4th Amendment) on every single innocent person in a large radius.

        You don't think foreigners sneaking into our country illegally is a matter of national security? It's the definition of national security you dolt.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      No it's he fact that resources are spent on finding illegals even though the amount of violent crime and murders have reduced dramatically since the 1990s even though we had a huge influx of illegals. Lazy government wants to capture restaurant workers instead of rapists and murderers. Many rape cases are not even investigated, let alone solved. In some cities even homicides are not looked at properly. Now we want to spend resources hunting restaurant workers? Assuming 1% of illegals are violent criminals (

    • Sooooo... These guys are upset that the Feds followed the law and got a warrant???

      No. We are upset that the law allows the feds to do this at all. Here is the 4th Amendment:

      The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

      The "location" should not be "within 5 km of our stingray" and the persons should n

  • I'm a bit curious as to this guy's history given the technology used to find him. Seems like a questionable use of resources to nab a busboy. Given that they didn't tell us why he was deported the previous two times I'm curious if they used it simply because he simply was two-time deportee that keeps coming back, or if he had any history of criminal activity involved in any of his deportation orders.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Re; Stingray for a deportation..

      Why is this bad? He was in the USA illegally and shouldn't be here. Some unemployed high school or college kid (which we are neck deep in in this country) could maybe have had that 'busboy' job instead..

      Kudos on ICE on finding him and deporting him.

      • I'd argue that using a Stingray inside the U.S. at all is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Whether or not a person agrees with the outcome shouldn't matter at all.

        If they know where he's working, just scoop him up after he gets off of work. If ICE is getting that lazy, maybe they should hire some Mexicans. I've heard they're pretty hard working.
    • by bmo ( 77928 )

      Seems like a questionable use of resources to nab a busboy.

      It's more expensive and dangerous to go after members of MS13, instead of Jose Busboy.

      But hey, the CIA needs MS13, so I guess they're just fine.

      http://www.duffelblog.com/2015... [duffelblog.com]

      Gotta fund the unofficial wars /somehow/.

      --
      BMO

    • by tsqr ( 808554 )

      I'm a bit curious as to this guy's history given the technology used to find him. Seems like a questionable use of resources to nab a busboy. Given that they didn't tell us why he was deported the previous two times I'm curious if they used it simply because he simply was two-time deportee that keeps coming back, or if he had any history of criminal activity involved in any of his deportation orders.

      This [observer.com] says he was first apprehended in 2005, but wasn't deported (the first time) until 2012. Possibly when he was first snagged he was released with an order to appear for a hearing, and then skipped the hearing; this is fairly common with the "catch and release" protocol that's been in use for some time. But that's just a guess.

      When you say, "I'm curious if they used it simply because he simply was two-time deportee that keeps coming back, or if he had any history of criminal activity involved in any of h

      • by TWX ( 665546 )

        Where did I say anything about taking a citizen's job?

        I was curious if, besides illegal entry, he did anything wrong. He did. Based on what additional information you've provided I wonder if he close to leave the scene of an accident because of fear of being deported again if he spoke with police, during this particular episode of illegal entry.

    • I expect they set up stingrays near locations commonly used by illegals and set it to scan for known illegals phone numbers (imsi catcher), and give an alert when found. This would be a simple and effective way to find lots of illegals, and more selective than having traffic stops to check for "Mexican" looking drivers.
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday May 19, 2017 @04:40PM (#54451435)
    >> "only brushes with the law involve drunken driving allegations and a hit-and-run crash"

    Um...if the dude's that dangerous, yes, please, kick him out. There are plenty of cooks that aren't threats to innocent people.
    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      I think your vehicle should be taken from you and not returned after you get to 4 DWIs. Same with texting while driving.

      This is in addition to all the standard mandatory counseling and jail time they normally get at that stage.

      • by DaHat ( 247651 )

        *Only* 4 DWIs?

        • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

          On your 4th offense and every one thereafter.

          For whatever reason it's a widely accepted and any less than 3 offenses people will try to defend them driving drunk but by the fourth offense at least imho it's indefensible.

          Something should have been done after the first three you shouldn't be able to get to four without a lot of dedication.

  • " FBI and ICE agents in Michigan used a Stingray device to ensnare a restaurant worker from El Salvador in March. "

    Clearly he was a threat to all of the patrons of that restaurant by not having the proper paperwork.[sneer]

    It's obvious that ICE and the FBI are going after the low-hanging fruit to look "productive" instead of "protecting us"

    I feel so protected because they're going after Jose or Josephine immigrant that poses no threat to anyone.

    --
    BMO

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Friday May 19, 2017 @04:42PM (#54451453)

    The fact that such a device exists is clear evidence that the protocols for cellular phones need to be fixed so that they will only connect to a master list of cellular towers that are in specific locations. What you may not know about cellular phones is that much more than this is possible. You can push an "update' from a tower to your cell phone and it's all done without any consent. Even if you have the latest security focused Blackphone, your phone will still accept any update pushed to your phone by any tower. The reason for this is that the baseband modem functions independently and always trusts that the network is not compromised.

    • will only connect to a master list of cellular towers

      Then they'd just order the cell site operators to include their stingray devices as "allowed". While there are security issues with the cell network, the biggest issue is unrestrained "law enforcement" breaking the law themselves.

      • will only connect to a master list of cellular towers

        Then they'd just order the cell site operators to include their stingray devices as "allowed".

        Which is why you would include GPS info about each tower. It's also why you would only update that list every few months, so it wouldn't be something they could push to your phone.

  • How is that news? I'm fine with the FBI using whatever they can to track illegal acts regardless of them being an illegal immigrant or something else.
    I'm an immigrant myself - as in not an American citizen living in the US. Do you know how much it takes to move to the US legally?

    Why would people be able to enter illegally and get away with it. Because feelings? Talk about privilege..

    The people make the country. People who can't follow rules and due process will also do anything to get by and produce much le

    • "Follow the rules and you'll be fine" rhetoric - check.

      "Work builds character" rhetoric - check.

      "Equal chances" bull$h1t - check.

      "Cultural supremacy 'cuz we fucking deserve it" BS - check.

      "I know I'm right because I used to be one of $THEM, but then I saw the light" - BINGO!

  • by sethstorm ( 512897 ) on Friday May 19, 2017 @08:35PM (#54452707) Homepage

    There is no defense for allowing illegals in this country, much less the crimes they commit.

    • Crimes like paying taxes (Social Security, unemployment) and not getting any benefits from those tax dollars.

      You are obviously in the Representative Steve King (R Iowa) [wikipedia.org] wing of the Republican Party: "For every one who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds—and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert."

      • come on, a low-wage worker has some hundreds deducted, but has a "right" to 100s of thousands in education and healthcare, besides whatever else they draw from tax-funded anti-American groups. Even those activist admit that Americans will support foreigners for at least two generations.

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