A growing group of bipartisan lawmakers are hoping to require law enforcement to get a warrant if they want to use cell phone intercepting technology in a criminal investigation.


It’s called “Stingray” and they’re a device that can capture all kinds of cell phone data by mimicking cell phone towers.


Ed Yohnka with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois said “it really sort of tricks all of the cell phones within a range into thinking that they’re connecting to a legitimate cell tower which allows the Stingray, or the cell site simulator, to gather information about the phones that are in that area.”  


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Yohnka went on to say that the devices can track location, data usage and even slow down the cell phone capacity.


“The one I think is really scary,” Yohnka said, “is that it actually can employ or plant a bug or malware on your phone that would give the operator of the malware, the person who plants it, total control of the phone.”


Senate Bill 2343 and House Bill 4470, both introduced this month, would create the Citizen Privacy Protection Act. The House measure from Democratic Representative Ann Williams added several Republicans as co-sponsors this week. One of them, Republican Representative Tim Butler, says the technology is scary.


“What scares me a little bit as a private citizen,” Butler says, “is I do believe when you’re driving down the street, talking on your cell phone or when you’re texting in your office, or something like that, you have an expectation of privacy.”


As to his support for the bill, Butler said “I’m a strong believer in our constitution and we have very strong privacy rights in our constitution and I think at the end of the day we’re a better country when we’re standing up for our individual liberties that are outlined in our constitution.”


Yohnka says Republicans hopping on to support the bill shows privacy is a nonpartisan issue.


“Even in these, shall we say rather troubled political times in Illinois,” Yohnka said, “we see this coming together around these particular issues.”    


The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police said they haven’t reviewed the legislation and passed on providing comment at this time.


(Copyright WBGZ / www.AltonDailyNews.com )