San Deigo Police Slow to Post ‘Stingray’ Policies

A new state law taking effect this new year will require any California city or county that uses the Stingray technology or any other cell-site simulator technology to approve and publish a usage and privacy policy.  The policies would be required amongst other things, to say who is using the equipment, how the data is retained, how the program is monitored, whether information is shared, etc.  The new law also requires this policy to be publicly available, and posted on the city or county website.

However, San Diego has not done so yet. The only thing that has been released, is a one page policy, which privacy groups say falls short of the state’s law. For example, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco nonprofit group, one of the things missing from SDPD’s policy are details on their data retention plans, and clarifications on whether the SDPD plan to share their data with other departments.

What is Stingray and What Does the Law Say?

Stingray, also known as cell-site simulators, is a technology which locates a cell phone and intercepts calls and text messages. It is a hand held device that acts as a makeshift cell-phone tower.  The device(s) essentially trick cellphones into bouncing their information off the devices instead of cell towers, allowing police to rake in all of the nearby phone numbers and locations.  They also relay contact numbers.

Back in October of 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that requires police get a warrant to use a stingray during criminal investigations. The law, known as the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act, would require a search warrant for the police to wiretap or access your cell phones or any digital data. The language of the statute itself is broad, and does not apply to specific technologies. This gives the law the ability to stay relevant as technology also changes.   

It should be noted that California is not the first state to legislate such a requirement. Others states that already have similar laws include Washington, Virginia, Minnesota, and Utah.

Probable Cause

Under the fourth amendment of the constitution, probable cause is required for any warrant to be issued, in order to avoid a search and seizure violation. Probable cause means that there is sufficient reason based upon the facts, that a crime has been committed.

San Diego Criminal Defense and Unlawful Search Attorney

The Law Offices of David M. Boertje has been zealously protecting people’s fourth amendment and constitutional rights for decades.  f you have been charged with a crime and think that the police obtained the evidence illegally, do not hesitate to contact our law firm immediately.  Evidence that is obtained in violation of a warrant requirement is not allowed in court, and you need an experienced lawyer to challenged every bit of evidence that is obtained against you.  If you have been charged with a crime, let us fight for you.