The StingRay secret is out. For quite a while, the government was able to use these gadgets to collect information on regular citizens' cellphone use and no one was the wiser. In fact, according to The Guardian, in the past the FBI forced local law enforcement to drop cases that would have revealed the existence of StingRays.
Fortunately, the secrecy is unraveling and we now know that a number of agencies use them, from the FBI to, as we recently learned, the Secret Service. With this transparency comes more rules to protect ordinary citizens. However, we still haven't learned the full depth of StingRay use, as a new report makes clear.
It now appears that the Internal Revenue Service has its own StingRays. The Guardian got hold of invoices from 2009 and 2012 showing that the IRS made payments for equipment and training to the Harris Corporation, a known StingRay manufacturer.
At the moment, no one knows what the IRS is using StingRays for, or even if it is using them. The Guardian got in touch with a former IRS deputy commissioner, Mark Matthews, and he claims that even inside the IRS there was no talk of using StingRays.
However, he did say that IRS agents tasked with criminal investigations have been advising the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in financial matters, and was picking up their tactics in return. IRS agents are also authorized to get PEN registers, which are "low-level court orders" that allow for tracing phone calls. This also grants the use of StingRays.
At this point, 13 government agencies are known to have or use StingRays. That doesn't include local law enforcement.
What do you think of this new StingRay revelation? Does it worry you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.