Legislators in Springfield are looking to restrict police from secretly sweeping up your cellphone data.
Cell-site simulator devices are commonly known as Stingrays. Law enforcement uses them to get information from cell phones by mimicking a cellular tower. A bill awaiting a House vote would limit police to locating a suspect's phone only after obtaining a warrant. The police would be required to delete innocent bystanders’ information once the search is finished.
American Civil Liberties Union Policy Director Ed Yohnka said these devices are too powerful to be left unchecked.
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“This is a powerful technology that can be used to become a tool of mass surveillance without the appropriate sort of checks or balances in terms of the way it’s used,” he said.
Yohnka said newer versions of the device can retrieve more than just location information. He said the device can download content such as websites visited and text messages.
The federal government already has rules in place similar to the proposed legislation.
“If these limitations are good enough for the FBI, they’re good enough for the Peoria Police Department,” Yohnka said.
A federal district judge in Illinois placed some limitations on the use of these devices in November 2015.