Saturday, July 15, 2017

FBI didn’t need warrant for stingray in attempted murder case, DOJ says

Weeks before a key hearing, federal prosecutors have submitted their formal opposition to an attempted murder suspect’s recent efforts to suppress evidence found through the warrantless use of an FBI cell-site simulator, better known as a stingray.

The Tuesday filing reiterates the government’s position in the case known as United States v. Ellis, setting the stage for a key upcoming hearing next month. DOJ officials say that law enforcement’s use of a stingray should not be considered an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment and, therefore, it never required a warrant.

Stingrays are surveillance tools that have become increasingly common nationwide. They essentially work by spoofing a cellphone tower and effectively tricking a handset into giving up its location. For years, law enforcement agencies big and small have tried to obscure their use, and the agencies have often been reluctant to release relevant public records. United States v. Ellis has been notable as it has begun to illuminate exactly how stingrays are used in day-to-day police work.

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