March 27, 2014

All Posts, News

Assume your cell phone is tapped.

There is growing concern over the use of devices called “Stingrays” by local, state and federal police departments to illegally wiretap all the cell phone calls at biker gatherings. Stingrays are bogus cell phone towers. They are about as large as a small suitcase and they are typically deployed in vans and sedans.

They are manufactured by a single vendor – the Harris Wireless Products Group, a division of the Harris Corporation. Harris WPG advertises itself as “a leading developer of state-of-the-art wireless technology for the Government and Law Enforcement communities.” Stingrays cost about $400,000. Most are purchased either by federal agencies with large budgets or by state and local agencies using federal grants. They should be illegal, as most of the tools and tactics of the global war on motorcycle clubs should be illegal. They are clearly unconstitutional, in that they are used to make a general, warrantless search. And they violate current federal law in that they “interfere with” electronic communications. Most of the information sponged up by Stingray deployments is stored as “intelligence.”

The federal grants that pay for Stingrays are typically described as supporting “terrorism investigations.” Typically, motorcycle clubs are described as “terrorist organizations” and “transnational gangs.”

Secret Evidence

The use of Stingrays to make criminal cases has never been challenged in court, in part because of clauses in the contracts between Harris WPG and its police customers. In an investigation of Stingray use by police in Northern California, Sacramento television station KXTV obtained a document that read, the “equipment is proprietary and used for surveillance missions…. Its capabilities can only be discussed with sworn law enforcement officers, the military or federal government. This equipment’s capabilities are not for public knowledge and are protected under non-disclosure agreements as well as Title 18 USC 2512.”

In an article last December, USA Today cited multiple instances in which Stingray deployments and so called “cell tower dumps” were used in investigations that had nothing to do with terrorism. For example:

When a ten-year-old girl disappeared in Colorado police gathered data from “at least several thousand people’s phones.” Police then chose “about 500 people who were asked to submit DNA samples.”

A South Carolina Sheriff gathered data from four cell towers to investigate “a rash of car break-ins near Columbia.”

“We were looking at someone who was breaking into a lot of vehicles and was not going to stop,” the Sheriff explained. “So, we had to find out as much information as we could.”

“When Miami-Dade police bought their Stingray device, they told the City Council the agency needed to monitor protesters at an upcoming world trade conference, according to purchasing records.”

Legal Searches

The collection of cell phone data is legal in most states: Because most legislators and judges are pathetically clueless there is a broad gap current technology and the laws they regulate technology.

Because of the secrecy with which they are used, the deployment of Stingrays is a difficult story to report. To date, most of the heavy lifting has been done by non-profit organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the First Amendment Coalition, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Privacy Information Center. Consequently, most Americans remain unaware that their cell calls and text messages are not private.




31 Responses to “Stingrays”

  1. Drifter Says:

    Feds further solidifying efforts to keep stingray usage and technology under wraps at the local level.


    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has been quietly advising local police not to disclose details about surveillance technology they are using to sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods, The Associated Press has learned.

    Citing security reasons, the U.S. has intervened in routine state public records cases and criminal trials regarding use of the technology. This has resulted in police departments withholding materials or heavily censoring documents in rare instances when they disclose any about the purchase and use of such powerful surveillance equipment.

    Federal involvement in local open records proceedings is unusual. It comes at a time when President Barack Obama has said he welcomes a debate on government surveillance and called for more transparency about spying in the wake of disclosures about classified federal surveillance programs.

    One well-known type of this surveillance equipment is known as a Stingray, an innovative way for law enforcement to track cellphones used by suspects and gather evidence. The equipment tricks cellphones into identifying their owners’ account information and transmitting data to police as if it were a phone company’s tower. That allows police to obtain cellphone information without having to ask for help from service providers, such as Verizon or AT&T, and can locate a phone without the user even making a call or sending a text message.

  2. Road Whore Says:

    Foolproof communications?

    Ride Free

  3. ap Says:

    Order a pizza, call the ol to say bring home smokes alls cool. Anything else not on a phone. Its sad we gotta live this way. And most idiots have the I have nothing to hide mentality. They just wanna feel safe.

  4. jcfromnj Says:

    Yo Boys and Girls, you can play Dick Tracy too if yu wanna. There is a new wrinkle, it’s called Software Defined Radio.It’s computer based, a $20 USB stick with an antenna, and you can pull in just about anything that is going over the air waves. You can go realy high tech on this if you care to. Most of the LEO chatter is when to meet up at Dunkin Donuts…hey Guy’s just kiddin of course!!

  5. Straight Shooter Says:

    Look around where you live and count the cell towers. Overkill. Google what ‘Smart Meters’ are designed to do. All 2004-up American built cars have onboard (computer) listening devices. The car can be remote controlled. Every key stroke is data banked. And it has been going on farther back than they admit. That is what the computer was intended to do, collect information from a duped user. In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter has a number. The letter W is 6. World Wide Web = 666. The bar code has a beginning middle and end of ‘stripes’ that are equal in length and spacing, their number is 6 and 6 and 6. The devil is in the details.

  6. blacksmith Says:

    Looks like Stingray is already outdated.

  7. Slick Says:

    Heading down the road of totalitarianism. All totalitarian governments controlled media and communications and spied on their own citizens. Everyone must conform is the idea. Sad thing is how many idiot people can’t see this as the real threat it is. Orwellian for sure. You are being watched. Say the wrong thing and someone may show up at your door sooner than later.


    Save the patch

    Save freedom.

  8. Big V Says:

    RLG: That is coming here. It is just a matter of time.

    Re: The video…

    The only thing they could have done there is find a birds nest and a really good scope and…

    That is just plain outright fuckin’ murder in that video. It kills me to see that, but it is coming here and it will be worse.

  9. RLG Says:

    They can kill a man, but not an idea. [graphic, death]


    @Sieg, solidarity!

  10. Sieg Says:


    I want to see that filmed on the streets in el-Lay., Chicago, Nueve Yorico, Dee-troit…


  11. DocB Says:

    Bad ass video man ….. hoorahkill

    This listning device can gather information without anybody knowing about it. They can use this information to grow a case without ever disclosing it’s existence or where it came from. If they gathered information that indicated you Didn’t do something do you think they’d let it out. The shit they get from these devices will never see the light of day as real evidence and won’t have to be disclosed in the usual evidence dump. Leaves people wondering how they knew what they knew.
    “Anything you say can be used against you and nothing you say can be used in your defence” (Hearsay rules of evidence)

  12. bones Says:

    east german stasi,and the soviet kgb dreamed of being able to,people like this,

    america beat your shit, we listen to our people and they don’t care,you communist,socialist fucks thought turning neighbors against neighbors,family members against family members was easy,Ha! as my wife’s stepmom,who was born in the ukraine say’s

    “stupid americans”

  13. FNG Says:

    Technology is omnipresent and constantly evolving to become less obviously intrusive while collecting more of your personal information. Even a cursory inspection of most modern smartphones can tell me where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re likely going. You’d be amazed at how few people even take the time to attempt to secure their information, although the truth we should all embrace is that no information transferred over electronic media is ever secure. The NSA either possesses the root encryption algorithms or can crack them using a brute force hack with one of their many supercomputers.
    Even if you aren’t breaking any laws, you should always assume you are being monitored… Because you are.
    This whole thing is a reminder to all of us of Rule #1: If more than one person knows something, it’s not a secret.


  14. Meh Says:

    “if private fucking industries would stop selling shit to the fucking feds DC would fucking disappear. ”

    Nah, they’d just build their own gear like in the days when Armories built weapons for the Army and Navy. Never underestimate the ability
    of government to harvest then spend your money.

  15. Road Whore Says:

    At this stage of the game I’m assuming that the feds know what brand of toilet tissue every American uses and how often they shit and wipe.

    I also see a growing resentment toward and continuing expose of this ungodly Big Brother Bullshit and that gives me some hope.

    Mouth off, Brothers! No one has to give away anything about their lives that they don’t want to, but we should not be like cowed sheep, afraid to speak! I freely curse these fucking bastards, and I will continue to freely express my opinions. We all should. Anything less and they will roll right over us without resistance. This addresses every man, woman, and child in America, patch holder or not. Our basic freedoms are in serious danger here.

    “What do you care if you ain’t got nothin’ to hide?”

    Whether that statement comes from some misguided LEO, fed, or just an unconcerned private citizen, here’s how I would educate them: first I would ask them if they are engaged in ANY criminal activity whatsoever. No? Okay, fine. Then I’m coming home with you today in your car. While you drive I’m going to stare at you the entire time. I’m going to write down what station you’re listening to; how many times you fail to use your turn signal; how many miles per hour you may be over the speed limit; who you honk and wave at. If you stop at the grocery store on the way home I’m going to continue to stare at you while you push your buggy and shop, writing down everything you put into your grocery cart, and then I’m going to write down your every word interaction with the checkout clerk and how you paid for your items. When we arrive at your house I’m going to watch you as you interact with your family members; watch you and take notes while you do yardwork or engage in other hobbies and interests; I’m going into the bathroom with you and watch you shit, all the while taking notes. Then I’m going to watch you tuck your kids into bed, fuck your wife, and continue to stare at you while you’re asleep. And this will go on every hour of every day from now on.

    Why am I under your skin?? You got nothin’ to hide…

    Ride Free

  16. RLG Says:

    Stingrays are based on Femtocells

    In case you want to play along at home…

  17. Whitepride Says:

    I was born 30 years too late! I don’t like this world I’m living in. There isn’t too much true freedom anymore.

  18. Bruka Says:

    Who puts their fingerprint into a phone ? They’ll want a DNA sample next.

    Respects to all.

  19. BMW Says:

    Harris is a big outfit that depends on federal regulation to make a profit — regular AM and FM transmitters are easily assembled by anyone — but stations MUST buy from certain “approved” models — almost everything new in the communications industry is driven by governmental action — whether by regulation or defense development or purchase. Harris will continue to sell to governments — even the so-called “repressive” governments (compared to what, you might well ask) around the world — like Iran, Syria, Bahrain or Iraq.

    City, state and federal LEO have been using secret intelligence from wiretaps since the telegraph, as has been Big Business. There is NO SUCH THING as a “secure phone”. Even during the short-lived reform days of the federal and state “Freedom of Information” acts, there was always an exception for intelligence, the knowledge of which would expose “intelligence-gathering techniques”.

    “Burner” phones can be used ONCE — but since the other end of the conversation is likely to be monitored — as soon as the information hits the relational data-base the LEO know where, when and what number is contacting any phone under surveillance. The burner phone gets added to the matrix. There are also voice-recognizing programs which can keep and relate the voice characteristics of WHO made the call.

    It’s not hard to build a data-base of people and numbers in the motorcycle world. I would be surprised if a real-time data-base did not exist somewhere – either the FBI the ATF or the DEA, as well as the CIA and NSA. The FBI were building databases of ALL people who contacted people under their surveillance programs — using paper files and numbered references to keep the database up to date — since the thirties!

    Like recognition of many other “Constitutionally guaranteed rights” the right to keep communications private has never been recognized by governments if they felt a need to know — or even a twisted curiosity, such as motivated the Queen of all USA intelligence agents– Edgar Hoover!

    If you are involved with any motorcycle club more real than HOG, you can bet people are keeping track of your communications — and their content. If you live a fairly carefree biker life and don’t belong to a club, you can bet someone, somewhere is interested in what’s going on. It’s not a possibility. It’s not a probability. It is a certainty!

    Don’t be paranoid, be careful!
    L,H&R to all 1% clubs and free riders!

  20. PigPen Says:

    I tell everyone, DO NOT BLAB on the phone. i don’t care what you are into, people are listening. anything outside hey man, i’m running late or anything of that nature, just shaddup about it. i never give addresses, times, meeting places over the phone. these are things that have been discussed in private.
    I am not about to do the pork’s job for them, and give them all of my private information and schedule. fuck them.

  21. JMacK Says:

    RVN69, hey that’s not a bad idea. It’s a better make work project then entrapping good Americans/Canadians. And maybe we could get em to do laundry and clean house and shit. Economic stimulus. Ha! And then at least we would know where the sneaky cocksuckers are.

    Just have to lock em up at night so they don’t try to touch your kids, fuck your OL or steal your possessions.


  22. RVN69 Says:

    Fuck me, why don’t they just move a fucking fed into my house 24/7/365 !!!!!!

    Fuck the Feds
    Fuck the Police
    All Cops are Bastards

    “I am my brothers keeper.”

  23. Tooj Says:

    FCC is getting in on the action too. They’ve begun citing any business, residence, etc. for items that give off radio signals. Even if those radio signals come from fluorescent lighting or any other device not manufactured or intended to emit radio waves.

    But many do, and all it takes is a complaint of interference for this to warrant requiring compliance or the daily fines begin.

    Yeah, I think monitoring the radio waves is being taken seriously.

  24. jj solari Says:

    if private fucking industries would stop selling shit to the fucking feds DC would fucking disappear. because lordy knows the feds cant do anything on their own. if they could people wouldnt be forced to pay them: they would be lined up for their fantastic goods and services with money in hand and smiles on their faces. someone ought to start a school to educate CEO’s in courses of “law-enforcement-worship deprogramming.” they’d make a fortune cause CEO’s have unlimited expense accounts. from getting rich selling shit to the feds that we have to pay for and them get to have them used on us. fucking assholes. and by assholes i mean everyone: the feds, the industries; the ceo’s and ourselves. its all one big pile of idiots all biting each other.

  25. CN Says:

    There is NO SUCH THING as a secure telephone line. Back in the pay phone days, when they actually rang as in you had the pay phone’s telephone number, could call it and somebody could answer it, THOSE PHONES WERE NOT SECURE, nope. And, like I said last time, you can buy a cheap throw away phone but they aren’t secure either. And yes, they can be activated to become an active listening device and you won’t see ANY DIFFERENCE when they do this. If you carry a cell phone that the battery cannot be removed from, it has the potential of being a listening device. Plus, let’s say you were having an arguement over whether or not to fly say, a 1%’er diamond patch on your MC’s cut and somebody interjected, “well, if I were a bank robber or a hit man I wouldn’t advertise it”, what you’ll likely hear in court is “I’m a bank robber and a hit man” so, even if you aren’t saying anything that would get you neck deep in the shit, it WILL BE EDITED so that this is exactly what the court will hear that you said. Lets review: 1.) No such thing as a secure line. 2). All cell phones are potential listening devices. 3.) No matter what you say, it will get twisted to suit the government’s case against you. (“ANYTHING you say CAN & WILL be used against you). If I swipe my Mother’s cell phone and you swipe your Mother’s cell phone, under any thing like that, that you can think up, forget about it, all cell phones are created equal. They are recording ALL calls, they are using them as listening devices and they are using them to track your location. So, what’s a Brother to do?

    Flip phones are still for sale, brand new ones, even at Verizon, that you can remove the battery from, get one of those & keep the battery in your wallet when you leave the house, trailer, tent or teepee. If you absolutely must have a smart phone get one but understand the risks and treat them as you would a Cop in the livingroom, as in, don’t say shit in front of them. If you have any kind of cell phone at least store it somewhere in the shelter you call home where you can hear it ring but it can’t hear you talk (I favor the microwave but here you gotta’ check before you cook anything. Putting it next to your clock radio set on the hip-hop station only makes them angry & you look guilty. Don’t poke the bear).

    And once again, a little common sense goes a long long way. Less is more.

  26. John Deaux Says:

    Nothing is private anymore, people willingly give it up on sites like facebook, twitter and so forth. Hell most phone conversations are so loud you can hear them 50 ft. away.
    Ask Joe or Jane Blow on the street about privacy concerns and they say ” it’s not a problem if you aren’t trying to hide something “.
    I say fuck that, unless I bring you into my business it’s nunya, but obviously I’m in the minority.

  27. Oldskewl Says:

    I read Sacramento was using this for sometime now and I’m sure there is much more out there that we don’t know about.
    Fact is, we cannot consider conversations held in the privacy of our own homes as being private. It’s a crying fucking shame


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