The feds have been using dummy cell tower devices on airplanes to ubiquitously collect data and violate our privacy rights since at least 2007, according to a recent report.
The Verge explains this newly discovered way that the feds are disregarding the 4th Amendment in full detail:
According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, the US Marshals service has scooping up Americans’ cell phone information by planting fake cell tower devices on board small airplanes. The device, known as an IMSI catcher, sorts through the collected data in search of a specific target’s unique ID, pointing the Marshals to his exact location. The program has been running since 2007, and according to the Journal, agents get a court order for each search, but it is still unclear whether the orders specify the alarming means by which the resulting search is conducted…
Following a single suspect would mean picking up signals from even tens of thousands of phones, which means it’s likely that millions of Americans have been affected during the seven years the program has been operational.
Now, I am sure that the feds and their enablers would point to the court orders and use that to demonstrate its accountability and fidelity to the Constitution. This is the same argument that is heard so often from the NSA and its defenders regarding the FISA Court and its authorization of the NSA’s activity. But in actuality, these court rulings have been little more than rubber-stamps for uninhibited snooping and have done little, if anything, to protect the Constitutional rights of Americans.
U.S. Marshals certainly could have been justified in gathering the electronic data of a potential fugitive from justice. They certainly would have been justified in getting a warrant to collect the electronic data of that one particular individual. However, technology like Stingray allows for the blanket gathering of electronic data from every person even if it they are suspected of no wrongdoing. This technology does not discriminate. The feds understand this and play it to their advantage while they deliberately obfuscate the issue to the public.
The bad news for the feds is that the cat has already left the bag. It is well-known, thanks to Snowden’s courage, that the NSA is gathering a massive database full of illegally-gathered information. It has already been proven a million times over that the feds will lie to protect their power. They have been caught doing it over and over again. When they give their next assurance that everything is just fine and to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, don’t believe them. They are in the business of lying to you about the magnitude in which your rights are being violated.
Since we clearly cannot rely on government officials at the federal level to protect our rights, we must fight for them ourselves. To aid in that process, the OffNow Project offers legislation that starts to dial back the federal surveillance state. If we remove our assistance, it becomes far more difficult for the feds to violate our privacy rights. When they are left to their own devices, it becomes much less practical for the feds to enact a program of such grandiose size and scope.
Rather than hoping a robed bureaucrat will rule in an appropriate manner, do the right thing yourself. Working at the state level can achieve success. There is already a national movement underway working toward denying state-level compliance to unpopular and unconstitutional federal acts. Our 4th Amendment Protection Act was introduced in over a dozen states in 2014, for example. The foundation has been built. Now all we need is your help to push us over the hump to victory. Join us, and show the federal government that their lies will no longer be tolerated.