Category Archives: Privacy

FBI Director Admits Apple’s ‘Backdoor’ Could Be Used for Other iPhones

While the FBI has formerly claimed that its order for Apple to create a “backdoor” into the iPhone was only to extract data from one specific phone used by a suspect in the San Bernardino shooting, it appears that the agency is retreating from that argument as FBI Director James Comey admitted it could set a precedent for future cases.

During a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Rep. Ted Poe (R-Tx.) questioned Comey on what would stop the FBI from using the “backdoor” software created by Apple on other phones if it wins the case.

“Apple develops the software and gives it to [you for] the phone, but that’s not the only phone in question, is that correct?” Poe said. “There are other phones that the FBI has in lawful possession that you can’t get into?”

Comey replied, “Sure, law enforcement increasingly encounters phones [in] investigations all over the place that can’t be unlocked.”

Poe asked how many other phones are in lawful possession of the FBI that the agency cannot extract data from with the current software. Comey said there were several, and he did not know the exact number.

“What would prevent the FBI from then taking that software and going at all of those other phones you have, and future phones you seize?” Poe asked.

“This seems like a small difference, but I think it’s actually kind of a big difference,” Comey replied. As he continued, he said that the software would only be used on iPhones in the same predicament as the one used the San Bernardino shooting suspect.

[pull_quote_center]The direction from the judge is not to have have Apple get us into the phone, it’s to have Apple turn off—by developing software that will tell the phone to turn off—the auto erase and the delay features, so that we can try and guess the password. So in theory, if you get another 5c running iOS9, which is what makes this relief possible, I mean it when I say it’s obsolete, because I understand that [with the iPhone 6] there is no door for us to even try to pick the lock on, so it wouldn’t work, but if there were phones in the same circumstances, then sure, you could ask for the same relief from a court to try and make effective the search warrant.[/pull_quote_center]

[RELATED: Apple Rejects Government Order to Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone]

Comey was later questioned by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fl.), who asked about whether the creation of a “backdoor” into the iPhone would make it susceptible to terrorists and child predators.

“When this tool is created, the fear is that it might be used by others and there are many who will try to get their hands on it, and will then put at risk our information on our devices,” Deutch said.

Comey noted, “There would be substantial risks around creating this software.”

[RELATED: Reality Check: Why McAfee Says FBI Really Wants To End Encryption, Not Hack Just One iPhone]

Deutch replied, “If that’s the case that it’s usable in more than one phone and it applies beyond there, then the public safety concerns that a lot of us have [about] if the public got access to our phones and our children’s phones, in that case, those are really valid, aren’t they?”

Comey said it is a valid concern, but claimed that it’s a question “we’re going to have litigation about is how reasonable is that concern,” adding “slippery slope arguments are always attractive.”

Comey acknowledged that the software may not be used for only the iPhone in the San Bernardino case, when he was questioned by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.)

“It won’t be a one-time request. It’ll set precedent for other requests from the FBI and any other law enforcement,” Goodlatte said.

“Sure, potentially,” Comey said.

[RELATED: Apple Policy Says They Won’t Unlock Devices for Government Requests]

Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell was later added to the hearing, and Comey said that in regards to the risks that would come with the creation of the software, “It’s not [Apple’s] job to watch out for public safety. That’s our job.”

Sewell told the committee that the company is not trying to look out for public safety as much as it is protecting its First Amendment rights to free speech and its Thirteenth Amendment rights to deny forced labor as a private citizen.

Sewell said the FBI’s argument that Apple is using the San Bernardino case as a marketing ploy “makes my blood boil.”

[pull_quote_center]This is not a marketing issue, that’s a way of demeaning our argument. We don’t take out billboards for our security. We don’t take out ads for our encryption. We’re doing this because we think it’s the right thing to do. To say that it’s a marketing ploy to to say that it’s about PR really diminishes a very serious conversation that should be about security of the American people.[/pull_quote_center]

[RELATED: FBI Ordered Password Reset on San Bernardino Shooting Suspect’s iPhone]

As previously reported, the FBI admitted in February that it reset the password on the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooting suspect Syed Farook within 24 hours of the shooting.

Apple officials criticized the move, and reportedly claimed that changing the password revoked the company’s access into an auto-backup of the phone. Comey admitted that this was a “mistake,” and claimed that even if the FBI had acted differently, it still wouldn’t have been able to access everything on the phone without Apple’s help.

[RELATED: NY Judge: DoJ Cannot Force Apple to Extract Data from Locked iPhone in Drug Case]

The FBI is currently attempting to use the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify forcing Apple to extract data from iPhones in 12 different cases. In some cases, that involves using existing capabilities to pull contacts and calling information, but in other cases it would require Apple to create new software to break the iPhone’s encryption.

New York Magistrate Judge James Orenstein ruled Monday that in one of the cases, a criminal drug case in Brooklyn, the All Writs Act does not justify “imposing on Apple the obligation to assist the government’s investigation against its will.” While this ruling is not binding in any other court, it does mark the first time a federal judge has ruled in Apple’s favor.

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NY Judge: DoJ Cannot Force Apple to Extract Data from Locked iPhone in Drug Case

In an unprecedented move, a New York Magistrate Judge ruled Monday that the United States Department of Justice cannot force Apple Inc. to extract data from a locked iPhone, as ordered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in a criminal drug case.

While the ruling is not binding in any other court, and the case deals with the iPhone 5 belonging to Jun Feng, who pleaded guilty to drug charges in October, the FBI is using the same defense that it is using to order Apple to “build a backdoor” into the iPhone of a San Bernardino shooting suspect.

[RELATED: Apple Policy Says They Won’t Unlock Devices for Government Requests]

The All Writs Act of 1789 states that “The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law” and that an alternative writ or rule nisi may be issued by a justice or judge of a court which has jurisdiction.”

In a ruling issued Monday, Brooklyn Magistrate Judge James Orenstein became the first federal judge to rule that the All Writs Act does not justify “imposing on Apple the obligation to assist the government’s investigation against its will.”

[RELATED: Apple Rejects Government Order to Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone]  

“The implications of the government’s position are so far-reaching — both in terms of what it would allow today and what it implies about congressional intent in 1789 — as to produce impermissibly absurd results,” Orenstein wrote.

[pull_quote_center]The Application before this court is by no means singular: the government has to date successfully invoked the AWA to secure Apple’s compelled assistance in bypassing the passcode security of Apple devices at least 70 times in the past; it has pending litigation in a dozen more cases in which Apple has not yet been forced to provide such assistance; and in its most recent use of the statute it goes so far as to contend that a court — without any legislative authority other than the AWA — can require Apple to create a brand new product that impairs the utility of the products it is in the business of selling.[/pull_quote_center]

[RELATED: FBI Ordered Password Reset on San Bernardino Shooting Suspect’s iPhone]

Claiming that it is “clear that the government has made the considered decision that it is better off securing such crypto-legislative authority from the courts,” Orenstein noted that former proceedings which were “shielded from public scrutiny,” have shown that the government has chosen to forego “taking the chance that open legislative debate might produce a result less to its liking.” 

[pull_quote_center]It is thus clear that the government is relying on the AWA as a source of authority that is legislative in every meaningful way: something that can be cited as a basis for getting the relief it seeks in case after case without any need for adjudication of the particular circumstances of an individual case (as the arguments that the government relies on here to justify entering an AWA order against Apple would apply with equal force to any instance in which it cannot bypass the passcode security of an Apple device it has a warrant to search).[/pull_quote_center]

This case is just one of the 12 government orders Apple is contesting. The Intercept noted that while some cases such as the case of Jun Feng, would require Apple to “use its existing capabilities to extract data like contacts, photos and calls from locked iPhones running on operating systems iOS7 and older,” other cases such as the one in the San Bernardino shooting would require Apple to “design new software to let the government circumvent the device’s security protocols and unlock the phone.”

[RELATED: Reality Check: Why McAfee Says FBI Really Wants To End Encryption, Not Hack Just One iPhone]

During a recent Reality Check segment, Ben Swann interviewed John McAfee, a cybersecurity expert and the creator of McAfee security software, who questioned whether the FBI was honest when it claimed it wanted an encryption key to hack a single iPhone.

Reality Check: McAfee Claims FBI Wants To End All Encryption,…

Reality Check: McAfee Claims FBI Wants To End All Encryption, Not Just Hack One iPhone

Posted by Ben Swann on Tuesday, February 23, 2016

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Interview: ICloak CEO Eric Delisle on FBI, Apple and Zero Knowledge Systems

In an exclusive interview, Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook talks with ICLOAK founder and CEO Eric B. Delisle about the FBI, Apple and Zero Knowledge Systems.

In the interview, Delisle shares his thoughts with Cook about privacy and “zero knowledge” systems. Delisle also discusses with Cook his position on the FBI-Apple controversy and practical solutions on how to secure data from government spying.

(The encryption tool discussed in the interview is called ICLOAK Messages, which is free for anyone to use and it can be accessed from any web browser, including on a smartphone. It is currently in BETA and can be accessed at www.ICLOAK.me/im)

Filmmaker Brian Knappenberger on FBI vs Apple Controversy: ‘Do You Trust Our Government?’

In an exclusive interview with Truth In Media’s Joshua Cook, filmmaker Brian Knappenberger breaks down the issues surrounding the FBI/Apple controversy and explained what the media is missing as it relates to civil liberties in the U.S. and the safety of global activists.

One episode in Knappenberger’s series, Truth and Power, focuses on oppressive governments that target activists by spying on their cell phones and computers.

Cook noted that many of these activists are tortured, and some are even killed because these government use “backdoors” to spy on people’s cells phones and computers. Cook asked Knappenberger about how opening these “backdoors,” if Apple complies with the FBI, would affect the safety of global activists.

“Apple sells its products all over the world… and so if there exists this back door, this magic key that the government wants… I bet those regimes are salivating at the prospects of this,” said Knappenberger. 

Knappenberger discussed how the American government uses surveillance and other tactics to disrupt innocent protesters who seek social and political change. He believes that filming police officers and police abuse is making a positive difference and should be protected under the 1st Amendment.

On the FBI/Apple controversy Knappenberber poses this question: “Do you trust the government?”

Watch the entire interview below:

https://youtu.be/uVDexx-euCQ

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Bill Gates Sides with FBI, Downplays Order to Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone

Microsoft founder Bill Gates set himself apart from other Silicon Valley CEOs when he pledged his support to the FBI, and criticized Apple for refusing to comply with the government’s order to “build a backdoor” into the iPhone.

While Apple CEO Tim Cook said that creating the technology to break into an encrypted iPhone “has implications far beyond the legal case at hand,” Gates told Financial Times that he disagrees with Cook’s interpretation of the request.

“Nobody is talking about a ‘backdoor,’ so that’s not the right question,” Gates said. “This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information. They are not asking for some general thing, they are asking for a particular case.”

The “particular case” that Gates is referencing is the iPhone used by Syed Farook, who is a suspect in the shooting that killed 14 people and wounded 22 in San Bernardino, California, in December. Last week, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered Apple Inc. to break into Farook’s iPhone to access its data.

[RELATED: Apple Rejects Government Order To Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone]

However, in a letter to customers last week, Cook asserted that the government’s order was for Apple to create “a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation.”

Cook claimed the software “does not exist today,” and said that in the wrong hands, it would have “the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.”

[RELATED: FBI Ordered Password Reset on San Bernardino Shooting Suspect’s iPhone]

The FBI confirmed on Friday that it ordered San Bernardino county officials to reset the iCloud password of the iPhone used by Farook, which reportedly eliminated “the possibility of an auto-backup” of the device’s data.

In his interview with Financial Times, published Tuesday, Gates insisted that Apple still has access to the information.

“Apple has access to the information,” Gates said. “They’re just refusing to provide the access, and the courts will tell them whether to provide the access or not. You shouldn’t call the access some special thing.”

Gates went on to say he believes this case is no different than the FBI asking a bank to hack into the account of one of its customers.

“It is no different than [the question of] should anybody ever have been able to tell the phone company to get information, should anybody be able to get at bank records,” Gates said. “Let’s say the bank had tied a ribbon round the disk drive and said, ‘Don’t make me cut this ribbon because you’ll make me cut it many times’.”

Gates also told FT that he hopes there will be a debate “so that the safeguards are built and so people do not opt” to say “it is better that the government does not have access to any information.”

[RELATED: Facebook, Twitter Among Companies Support Apple in Fight Against FBI]

The views expressed by Gates contrast those of other major tech companies and their CEOs.

Facebook issued a statement claiming it will “continue to fight aggressively against requirements for companies to weaken the security of their systems.” Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey said he supports Apple and thanked Cook for his leadership. Google CEO Sundar Pichai said “forcing companies to enable hacking could compromise users’ privacy.” And WhatsApp CEO and co-founder Jan Koum said tech companies “must not allow this dangerous precedent to be set.”

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Facebook, Twitter Among Companies Supporting Apple in Fight Against FBI

The CEOs of several major tech companies have voiced their support for Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook after he openly opposed a federal order to “build a backdoor” into the iPhone.

Cook released a statement in response to U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym’s order that Apple must help the FBI break into an encrypted iPhone that belonged to one of the suspects in the San Bernardino shooting.

[RELATED: Apple Rejects Government Order to Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone]  

Arguing that creating a way to break into an encrypted iPhone “has implications far beyond the legal case at hand,” Cook claimed that once “a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.”

Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey voiced his support for Cook’s decision on Thursday, writing that he and his company “stand with Tim Cook and Apple,” and “thank him for his leadership.”

Facebook issued a statement late Thursday, in which it said it will “continue to fight aggressively against requirements for companies to weaken the security of their systems.”

[pull_quote_center]We condemn terrorism and have total solidarity with victims of terror. Those who seek to praise, promote, or plan terrorist acts have no place on our services. We also appreciate the difficult and essential work of law enforcement to keep people safe. When we receive lawful requests from these authorities we comply. However, we will continue to fight aggressively against requirements for companies to weaken the security of their systems. These demands would create a chilling precedent and obstruct companies’ efforts to secure their products.[/pull_quote_center]

Google CEO Sundar Pichai released a series of Tweets Wednesday in which he called Cook’s statement “important,” and said that forcing companies to enable hacking “could compromise users’ privacy” and “could be a troubling precedent.”

WhatsApp CEO and cofounder Jan Koum released a statement on Facebook saying that he “couldn’t agree more” with Cook’s statement, and he believes tech companies “must not allow this dangerous precedent to be set.”

[pull_quote_center]I have always admired Tim Cook for his stance on privacy and Apple’s efforts to protect user data and couldn’t agree more with everything said in their Customer Letter today. We must not allow this dangerous precedent to be set. Today our freedom and our liberty is at stake.[/pull_quote_center]

[RELATED: McAfee: I Will Decrypt Information on the San Bernardino Phone for Free]

Computer programmer and 2016 Libertarian presidential candidate John McAfee called the FBI’s claim that the technology to decrypt an iPhone would only be used on the San Bernardino shooting suspect’s phone “a laughable and bizarre twist of logic,” and said his team would decrypt the information on the suspect’s phone for free.

“I will, free of charge, decrypt the information on the San Bernardino phone, with my team,” McAfee said. “We will primarily use social engineering, and it will take us three weeks. If you accept my offer, then you will not need to ask Apple to place a back door in its product, which will be the beginning of the end of America.”

While White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest argued that the FBI is “simply asking for something that would have an impact on this one device,” Cook said he believes that once a way to decrypt the iPhone is created, “the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.”

“The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor,” Cook said. “And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”

[RELATED: Bill Gates Sides with FBI, Downplays Order to Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone]

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Apple Rejects Government Order to Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone

In an unprecedented ruling Tuesday, a magistrate judge ordered Apple Inc. to infiltrate the iPhone of a suspect in the San Bernardino shooting case, and the CEO of Apple issued a public statement vowing to fight back against it.

As part of an investigation into the shooting that occurred in San Bernardino, California in December when a couple opened fire at a work Christmas party killing 14 people and wounding 22, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym ordered Apple to help the Obama administration break into an encrypted iPhone that belonged to Syed Farook, one of the suspected shooters.

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook posted a statement regarding the order online, and said he opposes it due to his belief that it has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”

According to Cook, the government has ordered Apple to create “a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation.”

Cook acknowledged the importance of encryption, and said that although he was shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino,” he feels that Apple has worked with the FBI to the fullest extent in retrieving information related to the case.

[pull_quote_center]When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we’ve offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.[/pull_quote_center]

Cook brought up the unparalleled power that would come from Apple agreeing to “build a backdoor” into the iPhone, which would create “the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.”

“Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”

Cook noted that “Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.”

Cook went on to say that while the government has argued that building a backdoor for just one iPhone is a simple, clean-cut solution,” he believes that once “a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.”

“Opposing this order is not something we take lightly,” Cook said. “We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government.”

[pull_quote_center]We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data. Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them.[/pull_quote_center]

Cook said “the implications of the government’s demands are chilling,” and noted that if a backdoor to the iPhone is built, the U.S. government could “extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.”

[pull_quote_center]We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications. While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.[/pull_quote_center]

[UPDATE: Facebook, Twitter Among Companies Supporting Apple in Fight Against FBI]

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Why is the House Judiciary Committee Meeting in Private to Discuss the FISA Act?

On January 27, 26 civil liberties, human rights, and transparency organizations sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee demanding that an upcoming “members only” meeting on surveillance be made public.

The hearing is scheduled for February 2, and is currently classified and for members only.  The committee will be discussing Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act, the law that the NSA uses for its PRISM surveillance program and to tap into the so-called backbone of the Internet. Both programs were revealed to the public by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Judiciary Committee member and “original author of the USA Patriot Act” Jim Sensenbrenner, (R-Wisc.) said in a statement to The Intercept that “Closed briefings are necessary for members of Congress to ask questions about classified information.”

“However, I would support a subsequent open hearing on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act because transparency and public discussion are critical to the reform and reauthorization of Section 702,” Sensenbrenner also said in his statement.

The letter calls on House Judiciary Committee to open the hearing on Section 702 up to the public. The organizations write:

“We believe that robust congressional oversight of the implementation of this statute, which is used to acquire the communications of Americans and people around the world alike without a warrant, is critical. We were surprised when we recently learned that you may soon hold a hearing in a classified format, outside of public view.”

The groups say that holding a closed hearing “continues the excessive secrecy” that has become the norm during the Obama administration and “contributed to the surveillance abuses we have seen in recent years.”

The letter also notes that the Intelligence, Armed Services, and the Judiciary Committees have previously held public sessions on matters of national security. The Senate Judiciary Committee has itself held several public hearings on NSA surveillance programs following the release of documents by Snowden.

The organizations also note that the way in which Section 702 is applied “also affects journalists who interact with confidential sources to report on issues in the public interest, and criminal defendants whose prosecutions may involve the use of evidence derived from intelligence surveillance.”

The full list of the participating organizations appears below.

Access Now

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)

American Civil Liberties Union

American Library Association

Amnesty International USA

Brennan Center for Justice

Californians Aware

Center for Democracy &Technology

Constitutional Alliance

The Constitution Project

Cyber Privacy Project

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)

Essential Information

Free Press Action Fund

Government Accountability Project

Human Rights Watch

National Coalition Against Censorship

National Security Archive

New America’s Open Technology Institute

Niskanen Center

OpenTheGovernment.org

Project On Government Oversight

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Restore The Fourth

R Street Institute

Documents Reveal Anaheim, Calif. Police Using Airborne ‘Stingray’ Surveillance Fleet

The American Civil Liberties Union of California has learned that Anaheim police maintain an inventory of cell phone surveillance devices including surveillance devices designed for Cessna planes.

The Anaheim police possess three different forms of cell phone surveillance tools, according to the newly released documents. These devices are known as cell site simulators or sometimes Stingrays. In 2011, Anaheim police purchased a Stingray and in 2013, Anaheim’s Chief of Police approved an upgrade.

Truth In Media has written extensively about how these devices are being used to track suspected criminals while largely operating without oversight from local, state, or federal authorities. Exactly how the devices operate and what data they collect and/or save has been unknown because of a vast amount of secrecy surrounding the tools.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation describes the 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.”

[READ MORE: A Guide to Stingray Cellphone Surveillance Technology]

Much of the information has been released through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests related specifically to the manufacturer of the Stingray – the Harris Corporation. The Harris Corporation has exercised a great amount of secrecy surrounding these tools. Truth In Media previously reported on documents which revealed the Harris Corp. worked with the Federal Communications Commission to maintain a high level of secrecy. Truth In Media has also discussed the fact that Harris Corp. lied to the FCC in their application for the use of cell site simulators.

The documents obtained by the ACLU also reveal that Anaheim police possess another powerful cell site simulator known as a “dirtbox.” The dirtbox is a military-grade surveillance tool made by Digital Receiver Technology Inc., or DRT. In 2009, Anaheim police used a federal grant to purchase a dirtbox. The device is capable of collecting information from thousands of phones at once.

The Center for Investigative Reporting wrote:

“The sophisticated surveillance equipment, manufactured by Digital Receiver Technology (DRT) Inc., a Maryland company acquired by The Boeing Co. in 2008, provides a more powerful class of cell-site simulator than the more widely used StingRay devices produced by Harris Corp., which require an upgrade to intercept communications and data transmissions. According to Digital Receiver Technology’s documentation, its devices are capable of breaking encryption on communications from 200 cellphones simultaneously across state-of-the-art 4G LTE frequencies used for rapid data transmission by the latest generation of smartphones.”

The documents also highlight how Anaheim police loaned out their surveillance equipment to local police departments outside their jurisdiction. In funding requests, the police wrote that “every city in Orange County has benefited” from their surveillance tools. The Anaheim police make it clear that the surveillance tools are available to other police departments in Orange County and also maintain written procedures for sharing the dirtbox.

[RELATED: Chicago, L.A. Police Using ‘Stingray’ Surveillance Capable of Breaking Encryption]

The ACLU says the spying program could potentially affect the privacy of Orange County’s 3 million residents and possibly the 16 million people who visit nearby Disneyland every year.

There is also concern over Anaheim police using the surveillance device in planes. An email from Lt. Dave Vangsness, head of the Anaheim Police Department’s Air Support Bureau, contains a memorandum of understanding for the dirtbox.

This would not be the first time that government agencies used planes outfitted with surveillance equipment to monitor the public. In late 2014, the Wall Street Journal revealed the existence of a cell-phone monitoring program being operated by the U.S. Marshals Service using Cessna planes mounted with dirtboxes.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a FOIA request with the Department of Justice and FBI but has yet to receive any additional information. The EFF has now filed suit against the DOJ and FBI.

In early March of 2015, it was revealed that the CIA has been working with the Marshals on the program. Over the last ten years, the U.S. Marshal’s Technical Operations Group worked with the CIA’s Office of Technical Collection to develop the technology. The agencies have spent more than $1 million developing the technology.

In June 2015, it was also revealed that agencies within the U.S. government operate fake, front companies to handle surveillance flights. Some of these flights included monitoring protesters in Baltimore.

In late 2013, Anaheim police also purchased a hand-held cell phone surveillance device manufactured by a company called KEYW. The tool is designed to covertly locate phone and encrypted LTE signals. The ACLU compared the documents with publicly available price quotes and concluded that the Anaheim police bought a device called a Jugular.

“With a lightweight Jugular in hand, individual officers can easily conduct cell phone surveillance around and inside of buildings, including private homes, without alerting bystanders,” the ACLU wrote.

Lawsuit Forces DEA to Destroy Millions of Americans’ Phone Calls

In December, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Human Rights Watch celebrated a victory after their lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration led to the conclusion of a program monitoring Americans’ phone calls overseas. The DEA also told the court that a database storing millions of Americans’ collected phone records has been destroyed.

The EFF and Human Rights Watch filed suit in April after USA Today reported that the DEA had been secretly and illegally collecting billions of records from phone calls placed to hundreds of foreign nations. After an 8 month battle, HRW agreed to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit after the U.S. government assured the organization that the mass collection of data had ceased and the only database with billions of phone records had been purged. The DEA made the promise under penalty of perjury.

A federal judge previously forced the government to respond to questions from HRW regarding the data collection program. The government attempted to convince the judge that there was no reason to rule on the legality of the program since it had already ended and the data had been deleted.

New details about the program were released through the government’s discovery responses. The government’s responses show that the DEA’s database was allegedly only searched when the government had “reasonable articulable suspicion” that the number was associated with an ongoing criminal investigation.

The DEA also says that call records older than two years were regularly deleted and the program reportedly went “off-line” in August 2013. As of January 2015, the DEA claims that the bulk database had been deleted, including any temporary files.

Despite the destruction of this single database, the U.S. government continues to monitor the activity of innocent Americans through a host of other programs and agencies.

As the EFF notes, “the government still retains some illegally collected records, and they’ve admitted as much.” This data collection includes gathering of phone records by the NSA under Section 702 of the FAA and under EO 12,333. Still, the EFF sees the outcome of the lawsuit as a win for privacy.

“Nevertheless, the end of the NSA’s domestic bulk collection and now the confirmed end of the DEA’s program represents a significant step forward in curtailing some of these abuses.”

What are your thoughts? Do you believe the DEA has stopped monitoring calls to foreign nations? Leave your thoughts below.

Apple’s Tim Cook Opposes More Federal Access To Customer Data

WASHINGTON – Opposition to back door access to encrypted information by intelligence agencies was defended by Apple CEO Tim Cook.

In an interview for “60 Minutes” broadcast, Cook said “There have been people that suggest that we should have a back door. But the reality is if you put a back door in, that back door’s for everybody, for good guys and bad guys.”

A renewed push by politicians and law enforcement has come in the wake of the November 13 terrorist attacks on Paris, when attackers were said to have used encrypted devices to coordinate and execute attacks outside the purview of government surveillance.

While the interview with Cook had been filmed prior to the Paris attack, the CEO has since emphasized his support for protecting encryption, saying the choice between privacy and national security was a false one.

“I don’t believe the tradeoff here is privacy versus national security,” he said, adding that’s an “overly simplistic view…We’re America. We should have both.”

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (CISA) has been a contentious issue in the tech community over the past year. The measure allows for direct sharing of consumer data and information with the surveillance community. Many provisions in previous versions of the bill which called for anonymity of that data were stripped out of the version of the bill which passed as a part of the omnibus budget.

“Organizations can now directly share raw data with several agencies with no protection or anonymity,” said engineer Joseph Pizzo with Norse Security. “There may have been a small cost associated with anonymizing the data, but now that this requirement has been removed and organizations may feel that they’re helping, I don’t foresee any work moving forward to protect consumer data.”

Candidates including Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) have advocated for the ability for intelligence agencies to circumvent encryption during the 2016 presidential campaign.

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Reps. Amash, Massie Blast Congressional Spending Bill for ‘Unconstitutional’ Surveillance Measures

The last-minute addition of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 to a massive Congressional spending bill has drawn criticism from Representatives who call the provisions unconstitutional, and say that they are an excuse for the U.S. government to expand warrantless domestic cyber surveillance.

In a statement to Truth In Media on Thursday, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) said he does not support the bill, and he sees it as possibly the “worst anti-privacy vote” since the Patriot Act in 2001.

[pull_quote_center]A vote for the omnibus is a vote to support unconstitutional surveillance on all Americans. It’s probably the worst anti-privacy vote in Congress since the Patriot Act.[/pull_quote_center]

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) released a statement on his Facebook page on Wednesday, claiming that he learned of the addition of the “completely unrelated legislation to expand warrantless domestic cyber surveillance” on Tuesday night.

[pull_quote_center]We learned last night that in addition to unsustainable spending, the giant omnibus includes completely unrelated legislation to expand warrantless domestic cyber surveillance and to repeal country of origin labeling for meat sold in the U.S. I will be voting no on Thursday.[/pull_quote_center]

The Cybersecurity Act of 2015 brings together provisions from other bills that have been passed in either the House or the Senate in 2015, such as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), which both give the U.S. government access to Internet traffic information from technology and manufacturing companies.

[RELATED: Surveillance Bill Masked As ‘Cybersecurity’ Close to Completion]

As previously reported, while “sharing of intelligence is supposed to be voluntary,” critics of the bill say the provisions “will only increase the indiscriminate monitoring of legal activity by giving companies immunity from lawsuits for sharing information with the government.”

Amash told Truth in Media he believes the surveillance provisions were “quietly slipped” into the massive spending bill in an attempt to “avoid full scrutiny.”

[pull_quote_center]These provisions were quietly slipped into the omnibus to avoid full scrutiny. We take an oath to defend the Constitution, and our Fourth Amendment privacy protections are as important as anything.[/pull_quote_center]

U.S. Police Chiefs Demand Access to Encrypted Communications Following Paris Attacks

As the world heals from the recent terror attacks in Paris, we are witnessing a range of reactions from heads of state and media pundits. The corporate media is doing its part to repeat the mistakes witnessed following 9/11, including support for curtailing of the rights of Muslim-Americans and an increase in surveillance and violations of constitutional freedoms.

The attacks in Paris, which claimed the lives of 130 people, have ignited a call from police chiefs and prosecutors who seek to pass legislation which would give investigators access to encrypted communications in an attempt to stop terrorism.

On Tuesday, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) announced in a press release that they were joining forces to “press for immediate action to address this critical threat.” The statement reads:

[pull_quote_center]The proliferation of sophisticated encryption technology and other technological barriers have increasingly hindered law enforcement’s ability to lawfully access criminal and terrorist related communications.[/pull_quote_center]

The groups also state that encryption has led to numerous instances where police could not access encrypted information “that could have allowed them to successfully investigate and apprehend criminals or prevent terrorists from striking.”

Although there is not yet evidence that ISIS member used encrypted communication programs to plan their attacks, lawmakers are calling for legislation which would allow law enforcement to access a “backdoor” to encrypted data with a warrant.

The Information Technology Industry Council told the Hill that creating backdoors would “actually create vulnerabilities to be exploited by the bad guys, which would almost certainly cause serious physical and financial harm across our society and our economy.”

Still, the chiefs are seeking access to protected communications by updating laws such as the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The groups state that they are committed to finding a solution “which balances the needs of the law enforcement community with protecting the public’s right to privacy.”

Last week, The Washington Post reported that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., an outspoken critic of encrypted communications, asked Congress to pass a law requiring the unencrypted content of any smartphone made or sold in the United States to be accessible to law enforcement officers with a search warrant. Vance said the changes were necessary following the Paris attacks.

“Every tip will be investigated, every lead will be followed, but every time one of those trails leads to an encrypted cellphone, it may go cold,” Vance stated.

Whether or not Americans continue to be granted the right to privacy depends on how willing we are to accept these radical changes in the name of security. How can we strike a balance between freedom and security while knowing that the U.S. government is funding the same terrorists whom we are supposed to fear? Are Americans willing to give up their rights once more in the hopes that the U.S. government will keep us safe?

New Documents Reveal the NSA is Still Collecting Americans’ Emails

New records obtained by the New York Times via Freedom of Information Act requests reveal that the National Security Agency’s mass collection of email communications likely continues using different methods which are not restricted by the law.

The new details, part of a report from the NSA’s inspector general, reveal at least four reasons why the NSA ended the email program. Three of these reasons are redacted but the fourth states “other authorities can satisfy certain foreign intelligence requirements” that the bulk email records program “had been designed to meet.”

The report also details two other legal ways the government may acquire the data. First, the NSA may gather Americans’ data that has been gathered in other countries by examining the fiber optic cables which power the internet. As the New York Times writes, these activities “are largely not subject to regulation by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.” The NSA was previously not allowed to gather domestic data using this procedure, but that rule was changed in November 2010.

The other method for spying on Americans which the NSA may legally employ involves the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act of 2008, which allows for warrantless domestic surveillance.

These revelations come on the eve of the end of another program which allows the collection of Americans’ phone records. Under the recently passed USA Freedom Act the NSA can still access the records in the pursuit of terrorists, but the records remain with the telecommunications companies.

Timothy Edgar, a privacy official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence with both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations who is now a teacher at Brown University, told the New York Times that “The document makes it clear that NSA is able to get all the Internet metadata it needs through foreign collection.”

If Americans were hopeful that the USA Freedom Act was going to stop the bulk collection of data, they are in for disappointment. As long as the state has the technology and the resources (funded via tax dollars), they will use whatever tools they have at their disposal to monitor innocent individuals as the march towards complete loss of civil liberties continues.

Anonymous Denies Involvement in Leak of Alleged KKK Member List

Over the weekend, a number of mainstream media outlets began reporting that the Anonymous-affiliated group Operation KKK had started early on its planned November 5 release of names of members of the Ku Klux Klan, based on a two-document dump on pastebin that has been attributed to an alleged hacker identified by the handle Amped Attacks.

The list includes several city mayors and Republican U.S. senators. However, some of the individuals listed in the dump sparked immediate questions about the legitimacy of the information. For example, openly-gay Democratic Lexington, Ky. Mayor Jim Gray and liberal Democratic Knoxville, Tenn. Mayor Madeline Rogero, who comes from a biracial family, made the list.

[RELATED: Anonymous Shuts Down Texas Town’s Website to Protest Killing of Teen Girl By Cops]

After Amped Attacks leaked the data, the Anonymous-affiliated Twitter account that originally announced that a leak of KKK members would take place on November 5 disavowed Amped Attacks’ leak in a tweet seen below.

https://twitter.com/Operation_KKK/status/661319846206967808?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Amped Attacks also released a tweet distancing itself from Anonymous.

https://twitter.com/sgtbilko420/status/659859094031986689

Techcrunch reports that Amped Attacks said, “I worked for nine days to gather and verify all the information that was gathered before its release. I got the information from several KKK websites when I [hacked] them and was able to dump their database. I went through many emails that was signed up with these sites and a few of the emails that sparked my interest was the ones of the politicians in question there would be no reason for them to be signed up on any KKK website unless they supported it or was involved in it.

[RELATED: Anonymous Releases Alleged Police Dispatch Audio Of Ferguson Shooting]

Amped Attacks’ analysis of the hacked email lists appears to ignore the possibility that someone else keyed some of the names or contact information into them. Gizmodo notes that Amped Attacks says that the lists’ signup procedures include an email verification step but failed to provide specific proof of that.

Gizmodo also spoke with one of the alleged KKK members on the list who works for a company that provides consultation service to police unions. That individual said that her business email had probably been added to a KKK email list by a now-incarcerated former administrative-level jail employee who had been convicted of wiretapping her and some of her colleagues. According to the wiretapping trial’s transcript, prosecutors connected the jail employee’s harassment of union members to a prank in which one of the victim’s names had been involuntarily placed on a KKK mailing list.

According to The Washington Post, the KKK’s membership has collapsed in recent years and includes “at most” 4,000 to 6,000 members spread across loosely-connected subgroups.

Operation KKK reportedly still plans to release its list of KKK members on November 5.

https://twitter.com/Operation_KKK/status/661281676027260929

The group also released a video press release promoting the November 5 leak, which can be seen below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xvfF5yvszQ

Social media commenters have pointed out the fact that the release of poorly-vetted information just days before Operation KKK’s planned leak could have the effect, intended or unintended, of damaging the credibility of the upcoming release of alleged KKK members’ identities.

Senate Approves CISA Surveillance Bill Masked as ‘Cyber-Security’

UPDATE: The U.S. Senate has officially approved the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) with a vote of 74 to 21. The Senate voted against four amendments aimed at adding consumer protections, including amendments from Sen. Dean Heller, Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Pat Leahy, and Sen. Al Franken.

CISA now heads to a conference committee to align the Senate bill with the House of Representatives version. If approved by the committee the bill would go to President Obama to be signed into law.

Last Thursday, with a vote of 83 to 14, the U.S. Senate approved a set of amendments related to CISA which is designed to allow private companies to easily share threat intelligence with government agencies. Critics of the bill say the provisions will only increase the indiscriminate monitoring of legal activity.

Before the vote, Senator Rand Paul introduced an amendment which would require companies to adhere to their own terms of service with customers. However, this amendment failed after only receiving 32 votes. Senator Paul’s presidential campaign website says that the bill “would transform websites into government spies.”

[RELATED: Activists To Bombard Congress With Faxes To Fight Cybersecurity Bill]

Following the vote, Senator Ron Wyden, a long-time opponent of CISA, told the Daily Dot, “We think that information sharing can be useful. But … information sharing without robust privacy protections—millions of Americans are going to say that’s a surveillance bill.”

As Truth In Media recently reported, the supposedly “voluntary” aspects of the bill are not voluntary at all and amount to surveillance of private customer information.

“Number one, it’s not voluntary for their customers, millions and millions of customers,” Wyden explained. “And number two, to get the liability protection, the companies have got to say that they didn’t find anything personal and unrelated in a knowing fashion. And that’s going to be a pretty easy bar because they don’t have to do much to look!”

[RELATED: BROZE: Privacy Advocates Prepare For Battle Over Cybersecurity Bill]

Attempting to pass surveillance measures veiled as “cybersecurity” bills is nothing new. In fact, CISA is seen as the “cousin” of another controversial cybersecurity bill, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which was defeated by mass opposition in 2012.

Privacy advocates and digital rights groups have been equally vocal in their opposition to CISA. Just days before the vote the Washington Post reported Apple and Dropbox said they did not support the bill. The two companies join Yelp, Reddit, Twitter and the Wikimedia Foundation in their fight against the surveillance bill.

Senator Wyden says the opposition from tech companies has the sponsors of the bill concerned. “I don’t know how many times they kept coming back to the fact that the technology companies really weren’t acting in the interests of the country,” Wyden said. “You saw some of their comments—’There’s no reason for them to be opposed.’ [That] was because they know that these companies are experts in both cyber and privacy. They’re ones that are really knowledgeable about it, and they were opposed to the bill.”

While the bill still has several hurdles to pass before it could become law, privacy advocates and lovers of liberty should keep an eye on the measure as it progresses. It’s time for the free people of the United States, and the world at large, to decide whether or not privacy means anything in 2015.

New Facebook Feature Alerts Users of State-Sponsored Cyberattacks

Facebook announced late last week that it has enabled a new security feature that notifies a user when it appears that his or her devices or private accounts are under a government-sponsored cyberattack.

The social network’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos published a Facebook note from the company’s verified security page last Friday that explains how the new feature works. “Starting today, we will notify you if we believe your account has been targeted or compromised by an attacker suspected of working on behalf of a nation-state,” he said.

When Facebook detects that a user might be under a state-sponsored cyberattack, it will show that user a notification, seen below.

FacebookNotification

While we have always taken steps to secure accounts that we believe to have been compromised, we decided to show this additional warning if we have a strong suspicion that an attack could be government-sponsored. We do this because these types of attacks tend to be more advanced and dangerous than others, and we strongly encourage affected people to take the actions necessary to secure all of their online accounts,” wrote Stamos.

[RELATED: Facebook Is Tracking You Even When You Aren’t Logged In]

The notification recommends that users turn on the setting “Login Approvals” to secure their Facebook accounts against such attacks. TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez says that when Login Approvals is activated, “users are alerted when their Facebook account is accessed from a new device or a new web browser.” She added, “When this occurs, Facebook sends a security code to your phone, so only you – as the phone’s owner – will be able to enter in the code and proceed to log in.

Stamos noted that Facebook will not explain in these instances why it believes that the user is under an attack in an effort to “protect the integrity of our methods and processes” but that it will only issue the notifications when the social network’s software detects evidence that “strongly supports our conclusion.”

Rand Paul Explains Why He Would Not Pardon Edward Snowden

GOP presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul said on Friday that he would not pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and would instead seek a compromise that involved Snowden serving some jail time.

During a convention of the Republican Liberty Caucus in Nashua, New Hampshire, Paul was asked if he would pardon Edward Snowden, who is currently in Russia and reportedly contemplating a return to the U.S.

Snowden is facing felony charges for leaking documents that revealed the U.S. government is spying on innocent Americans and collecting their phone records using the NSA’s mass surveillance program.

Paul, who has rallied against the NSA’s program on several occasions, said that while he partially wants to pardon Snowden, he also believes that the country has to have a set of rules that cannot be broken.

[pull_quote_center]I know most people would want me to say yes, and part of me says yes, and part of me says that we cannot have no rules. So for example, we do have secrets, maybe too many, but we do have secrets that need to be protected. We have operatives who try to risk their lives to defend our country and you know, he didn’t reveal that, but you don’t want people to reveal things like that.[/pull_quote_center]

Paul noted that Snowden did reveal a program that was not known to the American people before, and that might have stayed under the radar, due to the Obama administration’s treatment of whistleblowers.

“He revealed a program that we probably would have never known about, had he not revealed it because the government was lying,” Paul said. “So in many ways you could call him a whistleblower.”

[RELATED: Obama Has Sentenced Whistleblowers to 10x the Jail Time of All Prior U.S. Presidents Combined]

Paul said he believes the U.S. should come to a compromise with Snowden, in which he serves some sort of a sentence that is “reasonable and negotiated.”

[pull_quote_center]I think the best compromise on it is that there would be some penalty. But the people who are going nuts, which includes half of the people in our party, wanting to execute him, shoot him, chop his head off, all of these crazy stuff, they are completely wrong, and I think there could be some accommodation. And I think he would actually serve some sentence, if it were reasonable and negotiated.[/pull_quote_center]

In an interview with BBC that aired Monday, Snowden said that he is willing to serve jail time in order to return to the U.S.

“I’ve volunteered to go to prison with the government many times,” Snowden said. “What I won’t do is I won’t serve as a deterrent to people trying to do the right thing in difficult situations.”

There has yet to be a presidential candidate who has said that he or she would pardon Snowden, pending his return to the U.S.

Carly Fiorina described Snowden as “terribly destructive,” Ben Carson said that Snowden “did our nation a tremendous amount of damage” and should be punished, and Donald Trump said that Snowden is a “traitor” and should be killed.

For more election coverage, click here.

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Digital Privacy Bill Blocking Warrantless Spying

Democratic California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills into law on Thursday that strengthen Californians’ digital privacy protections.

Senate Bill 178, the California Electronic Privacy Act (CalEPCA), prevents state-level investigators from obtaining a suspect’s digital communications without first securing a warrant. The law also mandates that California law enforcement agencies procure a warrant before compelling tech companies, many of which are headquartered in the state, to turn over metadata and other records.

The technology-focused publication Wired, which characterized the California Electronic Privacy Act as “the nation’s best digital privacy law,” quoted ACLU of California technology and civil liberties policy director Nicole Ozer as saying, “This is a landmark win for digital privacy and all Californians. We hope this is a model for the rest of the nation in protecting our digital privacy rights. This is really a comprehensive update for the modern digital age.

[RELATED: California Governor Signs Assisted Suicide Bill Into Law]

Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Dave Maass wrote, “CalECPA protects Californians by requiring a warrant for digital records, including emails and texts, as well as a user’s geographical location. These protections apply not only to your devices, but to online services that store your data. Only two other states have so far offered these protections: Maine and Utah.

According to the Tenth Amendment Center, “The law also stipulates that law enforcement gather no more information than is necessary to achieve the objective of the search, and imposes other conditions on the use of the search warrant or wiretap order and the information obtained, including retention and disclosure requirements. Information obtained in violation of these provisions would be inadmissible in criminal, civil, or administrative proceedings.

Gov. Brown also signed a second bill, Senate Bill 741, which prohibits local governments in the state from acquiring stingray technology unless a bill passes through the locality in question’s legislature and requires that members of the public be given an opportunity to comment in advance of the vote. Tenth Amendment Center communications director
Mike Maharrey explained, “Cell site simulators, known as ‘stingrays,’ spoof cell phone towers. Any device within range is essentially tricked into connecting to the stingray instead of the tower, allowing law enforcement to sweep up communications content, as well as locate and track the person in possession of a specific phone or other electronic device.” He added, “Since local police generally receive these devices directly from the FBI, or through grant money provided to them by the FBI, passage of SB741 allows local communities to interpose themselves in this process and block the FBI’s programs from coming to fruition.

Under Senate Bill 741, county sheriffs can purchase stingray technology without legislative approval, but must make a public announcement if they do. The bill requires that law enforcement “maintain a usage and privacy policy in order to ensure that the collection, use, maintenance, sharing, and dissemination of information and data gathered through the use of cellular communications interception technology is consistent with respect for an individual’s privacy and civil liberties.