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One police department spied on cellphones 4,300 times

One police department spied on cellphones 4,300 times
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

Police departments around the country use secretive and controversial StingRay devices to track cellphones and gather information in criminal investigations. This has privacy advocates concerned because this tracking has been to known to take place with little oversight. In fact, police in Baltimore have used the gadget 4,300 times, in some cases without a warrant.

At Monday's hearing, Detective Michael Dressel said the device is used without court orders under urgent circumstances, and though he was unsure how often that happened, he called it "rare."

StingRays are making news in Baltimore right now because police used one to trace a cellphone stolen from a murder victim to a murder suspect's house. Police didn't get a warrant to use the gadget because of the urgency of the case, according to detectives. The suspect, Anthony Todd, claims he found the phone on a porch, He challenged the use of the StingRay, but a judge denied his challenge.

Circuit Court Judge Timothy J. Doory ruled that Todd, 47, had no ability to "complain about a phone that isn't his, taken during commission of a murder."

Next page: Learn more about StingRays and how they affect your privacy.
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