Leaked Law Enforcement Supply Catalog Shows Souped-Up Cell Tower Spoofers, Tons Of Pervasive Surveillance Options
from the all-the-better-to-see/hear-you-with,-my-dears dept
The Intercept has obtained what appears to be another set of leaked documents — these ones originating from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The first document released (assuming that more are on the way) is a catalog of law enforcement-only tech products from UK firm Cobham, including Stingray-like devices capable of not only locating suspects, but also intercepting their phone calls and messages.
Information about Cobham’s own suite of Stingray-style boxes is almost nonexistent on the web. But starting far down on Page 105 of the catalogue is a section titled “Cellular Surveillance,” wherein the U.K.-based manufacturer of defense and intelligence-oriented hardware lays out all the small wonders it sells for spying on people’s private conversations, whether they’re in Baghdad or Baltimore…
From the catalog [PDF]:
Cobham designs and manufactures Active Cellular Surveillance Systems. These are designed for tactical operations in short to medium range missions and provide the user with intelligence to help identify and monitor criminal activities, criminals and terrorists.
They can also be employed for humanitarian operations. Solutions are typically used for:
• Counter terrorism and organized crime operations, identifying and monitoring suspects, exploring target contact details and intercepting outgoing voice calls and SMS messages.
• Situational control, enabling identification and network denial of cellular devices through ‘intelligent’ jamming, including creating controlled areas of coverage.
• Suspect geo-locating capabilities.
Cell emulators, direction finders and coverage analysis provide ideal applications for: suspect identification, exploration of target’s contact networks, suspect monitoring and search and rescue. In-country support contracts are available to ensure effective maintenance and support of the cellular technologies.
Harris’ Stingrays also provide the same interception capabilities, but every law enforcement agency that has been forced to discuss their use of IMSI catchers denies using these features, including the FBI. But the fact that this capability is in the hands of law enforcement is still a concern.
[ACLU attorney Nathan] Wessler said “the note at the top of the page about the ability to intercept calls and text messages (in addition to the ability to geo-locate phones)” is of particular interest, because “domestic law enforcement agencies generally say they don’t use that capability.” Also remarkable to Wessler is the claim that cellphone users can be “tracked to less than 1 [meter] of accuracy.”
Just as concerning is the fact that law enforcement has routinely deployed this equipment using only pen register orders — locating suspects using legal paperwork that’s only supposed to cover numbers dialed by a phone, not its current location. With these features built in, law enforcement agencies have access to wiretap capabilities at pen register prices, in terms of the Fourth Amendment.
Also of note are the variety of IMSI catchers offered by Cobham, which include products with enough power to grab as many connecting phones as a full-blown cell tower. Others offer the capability to deny service to all phones within their reach or, conversely, grab up to 200 unique cell phone identifiers a minute. Cobham also sells body-worn companion trackers for use with its larger cell tower spoofers, designed to be worn covertly to better narrow down the location of devices.
Cobham also offers cities complete surveillance systems with IP mesh networks for securely transmitting footage, data, etc. to control centers and cameras that do more than simply watch — they also tag, track and locate suspects. Add-ons include thermal cameras and ground sensors.
And there’s so much more. A plethora of covert surveillance cameras which Cobham will gladly shove into anything from a street light cover to a smoke detector (or a splice boot, wall clock, utility pedestal…). Many of the product descriptions contain a bit of military op lingo — which makes sense considering Cobham’s history of acquiring US defense and intelligence contractors like Sparta and Argotek, along with its partnership with Northrop Grumman. (It also — like other purveyors of surveillance/intelligence tech — is less than discriminate as to who it sells to. Its customer list includes Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore.) What could make more sense than selling repurposed war gear to law enforcement agencies which seemingly view themselves as both military forces and intelligence agencies?
Finally, like all good leaked documents, this catalog comes with a warning to unauthorized readers.
This catalog is the property of Cobham Tactical Communications and Surveillance and must be returned upon request.
Yeah. Let us know how that goes.