Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

Long-Secret Stingray Manuals Detail How Police Wiretap Cell Phones

Your cell phone conversations may be monitored and recorded by a local police department, even without a court order.

The StingRay is a controversial cellular phone surveillance device that not only listens to cellular telephone conversations, it becomes an active participant in cellular connections. Initially developed for the military and intelligence community, the StingRay and similar devices are in widespread use by local and state law enforcement agencies across the United States and possibly covertly in the United Kingdom. A Stingray device mimics a wireless carrier cell tower in order to force all nearby mobile phones and other cellular data devices to connect to it. It then relays the conversation to a true cellular network but records all conversations passing through the device.

Legal experts claim the Stingray is, in effect, an often-used method of wiretapping telephone conversations without a court’s authorization. In addition, the Stingray is non-selective. It records ALL conversations passing through it.

The Intercept has today published 200-page documents revealing details about Harris Corp’s Stingray surveillance device, which has been one of the closely guarded secrets in law enforcement for more than 15 years. The firm, in collaboration with police clients across the U.S., has “fought” to keep information about the mobile phone-monitoring boxes from the public against which they are used. The publication reports that the surveillance equipment carries a price tag in the “low six figures.”

The Intercept’s article may be found at

Categories: Cell Phones

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