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Investigative journalist Beau Hodai returns to share his detailed report on "Stingray" cell site simulators that scoop up call data on thousands of innocent Americans, and are used in ways that appear to violate the Constitution and deceive judges, prosecutors and defendants. Click here for free audiobook download, and earn $15 for the PBC Podcast!
We got the exclusive first interview with Hodai since he published his detailed 33-page report in July, Forbidden Knowledge: Stingray cellular surveillance, DoJ antipathy for the fourth amendment, and the consequences of police militarization.
We open with discussion of claims by Harris Corporation, which makes Stingray and a suite of related devices, that its non-disclosure agreements with police agencies preclude those agencies from revealing the source of evidence derived from illegal surveillance to courts, prosecution and defense. In some cases, police lie and say the evidence came from a "confidential informant"; in other cases, they use "parallel construction" to develop other evidence that would not have been discovered without the surveillance.
Hodai explains how cell site simulators work: they take control of cell networks in a certain geographical area, and sweep up data on all users--not just their suspects. While we are told that they aren't listening to the calls, the metadata--including geolocation--enable them to map connections and follow suspects. Since Harris and the FBI maintain secrecy (even promotional brochures about Stingray are considered secret), it appears they don't seek warrants in order to keep courts in the dark about Stingray.
Hodai also reveals that some of his documentation is from lawsuits brought by Daniel Rigmaiden, who is accused of filing many false tax returns and believes that Stingray was used to identify him. And he details the frightening confrontation in Sarasota, Florida between heavily armed intruders (who turned out to be cops looking for a fugitive) and a nurse who drew her own weapon and "stood her ground" as her home was raided; it's believed that Stingray had found the fugitive's phone in her condo complex, and the police were sweeping it to find him.
Hodai's reporting is often based on public records, and he tells us about his Arizona lawsuit seeking disclosure of details of a $400,000 purchase of Stingray and related gear by the Tucson Police Department. While the FBI has no standing in this state-level public records litigation, it has barged into the case to assert the nondisclosure of "homeland security information".
Readers are the only source of support for the work of Beau Hodai, and I encourage you to support him by purchasing a copy of his report, here.