Privacy & Technology

State Police Using Cellphone Spy Gear to Catch Criminals

State Police Using Cellphone Spy Gear to Catch Criminals

2015-10-23 00:00:00

State police in Michigan have been secretly using hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of cell site simulator equipment to locate and track cell phones since at least 2006, according to records obtained by the ACLU and ACLU of Michigan. And although the agency justified its initial purchase of the surveillance gear as "vital to the war on terrorism," the records show that the department used its cell site simulators in 128 run-of-the-mill investigations last year—not a single one of which was for terrorism. The records also highlight the continuing problem of excessive secrecy about use of this invasive tracking equipment.

Cell site simulators, commonly known as Stingrays, can precisely locate and track phones by mimicking cell phone towers and forcing phones in the area to transmit their unique identifying information. Because these devices raise serious privacy concerns, the ACLU has been tracking their purchase and use by law enforcement agencies across the country.

The records show that the State Police spent more than $200,000 in 2006 to purchase a Stingray, Kingfish, and related cellular tracking equipment. That purchase was paid for by a federal Department of Homeland Security grant. In a document justifying the purchase, MSP asserted, "This equipment will allow the State to track the physical location of a suspected terrorist who is using wireless communications as part of their operation." Yet, according to a January 2015 breakdown of one year's worth of Stingray deployments, that's not how the technology is being deployed. Out of 128 investigations where MSP used Stingrays in 2014, 42 were related to homicides, 30 for burglaries and robberies, 12 for assaults, 11 for missing persons, and the rest for a mix of offenses including drug crimes, obstructing police, and fraud. Not a single terrorism investigation among them.

READ MORE: ACLU National

They Don’t Want You to Know: Shedding Light on Surveillance in Michigan

They Don’t Want You to Know: Shedding Light on Surveillance in Michigan

2014-05-22 00:00:00

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office recently became the first in Michigan to purchase a Hailstorm device, an incredibly powerful surveillance tool typically used by the NSA and CIA which allows police to routinely spy on thousands of people without them ever knowing.

The department has actively prevented the public from learning about the tool, refusing to answer basic questions about what it does and how they use it, only raising further suspicion about their activities.

Your Weekly Rights Review - April 29, 2011

Your Weekly Rights Review - April 29, 2011

2011-04-28 00:00:00

Civil liberties abuses are often felt first by the most vulnerable segments of our society.

This week we're working hard to defend medical marijuana patients from having to live in fear simply because of their medical care.

We're also giving a voice to Michigan's forgotten children, fighting the unconstitutional law that can sentence a 14-year-old to die behind bars.

Michigan News

Pain Management Shouldn't Mean Unemployment

School Should Recognize Student Group Opposing Surveillance Cameras

School Should Recognize Student Group Opposing Surveillance Cameras

2008-03-25 00:00:00

ANN ARBOR – In a letter to Ann Arbor Public Schools today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan threatened to sue the school district unless the superintendent reversed a Pioneer High School decision denying school club status to a student group opposing the installation of surveillance cameras. Pioneer administrators have refused to afford the group the same privileges as other student clubs because it is political group that opposes a school decision.

New ACLU Ads Call on 110th Congress to Restore Lost American Freedoms

New ACLU Ads Call on 110th Congress to Restore Lost American Freedoms

The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that a new print advertisement will run in targeted congressional districts, calling on the 110th Congress to restore the constitutional freedoms lost in recent years. The ad outlines a wish list of four New Year’s resolutions for the new Congress, including “end torture in secret prisons,” “restore habeas corpus and due process,” “stop warrantless eavesdropping on innocent Americans,” and “bring the Patriot Act in line with the Constitution.

DOJ Exempts FBI Database from Privacy Act

DOJ Exempts FBI Database from Privacy Act

On March 24, 2003, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published a final rule without public comment that exempts the FBI's National Crime Information Center database from the Privacy Act.  This means that the FBI no longer needs to ensure the accuracy and timeliness before loading incriminating information about a particular individual into the nation's most comprehensive law enforcement database.

ACLU Adds Staff Attorney to Coordinate Post 9/11 Activities

ACLU Adds Staff Attorney to Coordinate Post 9/11 Activities

2003-01-06 00:00:00

DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is pleased to announce that Noel Saleh, a prominent and longtime immigration attorney in the Detroit area, joined the staff in January 2003 to expand outreach to the Arab community and coordinate legal work developed in response to new government efforts to control terrorism at the expense of civil liberties.

Judge Orders Prison Staff to Stop Reading Mail Between Prisoners and Lawyers

Judge Orders Prison Staff to Stop Reading Mail Between Prisoners and Lawyers

Representing Michigan prisoners, the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project filed objections to MDOC’s legal mail policy that was revised shortly after the Anthrax threats that followed the attacks of September 11, 2001.  

Court Asked to Strike Down Grand Blanc High School Drug Testing Policy

Court Asked to Strike Down Grand Blanc High School Drug Testing Policy

2001-06-05 00:00:00

To stop Grand Blanc High School's drug testing program, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a motion on Tuesday in an on-going lawsuit asking that the Genesee County Circuit Court rule the school's policy a violation of the Michigan Constitution's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

ANN ARBOR – In a letter to Ann Arbor Public Schools today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan threatened to sue the school district unless the...
No related legislation
No related campaigns
State police in Michigan have been secretly using hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of cell site simulator equipment to locate and track cell phones...
The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office recently became the first in Michigan to purchase a Hailstorm device, an incredibly powerful surveillance tool typically...
ANN ARBOR – In a letter to Ann Arbor Public Schools today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan threatened to sue the school district unless the...
January 06, 2003 Privacy & Technology
DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is pleased to announce that Noel Saleh, a prominent and longtime immigration attorney in the Detroit...
June 05, 2001 Privacy & Technology
To stop Grand Blanc High School's drug testing program, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a motion on Tuesday in an on-going lawsuit asking...
Representing Michigan prisoners, the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project filed objections to MDOC’s legal mail policy that was revised...
On March 24, 2003, the Department of Justice (DOJ) published a final rule without public comment that exempts the FBI's National Crime Information Center...
The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that a new print advertisement will run in targeted congressional districts, calling on the 110th Congress...
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