ICE Using Stingrays To Track Down Immigrants Because Of Course It Is

from the high-value-targets-just-means-everyone dept

As information about police use of cell tower spoofers began leaking out, those who had kept the public (including defendants, judges, and even some prosecutors) out of the loop began defending their use of domesticated military technology. They said pay no attention to the possible civil liberties violations. Just think of all the good they’re doing. They promised Stingrays would only be used on the worst of the worst, and only when time was of the essence: terrorists, murderers, kidnappers, etc.

But then even more Stingray documents made their way into the public domain. These showed the devices were deployed in bog-standard drug investigations or, worse, used just because agencies had them. This perhaps reached its nadir when a police department fired up its Stingray to hunt down someone who had stolen less than $60 worth of fast food. To make matters worse, the Stingray failed to track down the alleged thief.

Of course, anyone paying attention knew Stingrays would be used for nothing of importance, despite public officials’ statements otherwise. The first person to start digging into Stingray use was Daniel Rigmaiden, who was doing time for fraud. Not exactly the sort of crime one would associate with exigent circumstances and possible danger to the public.

And, of course, because it’s now the government’s foremost priority to toss undocumented immigrants out of the country, Stingrays are being used to accomplish this goal. And, just like the defensive statements made on behalf of IMSI catchers, the federal government has claimed it’s only interested in removing the most dangerous of undocumented individuals first. These statements are also false.

Federal officials in Detroit used a secretive tool known as a “Stingray” — which tricks cell phones into revealing their location — to find an undocumented man for deportation.

The cell-site simulator has been used in the past by federal and local law enforcement to find murder suspects, kidnap victims, drug dealers and terrorists — but sometime in March, FBI and ICE officials used it to find a 23-year-old native of El Salvador to deport him.

The alleged criminal act being used as leverage — both for the Stingray deployment and the use of ICE’s “eject” button — is a long ways from the Parade of Horribles used to justify the acquisition and use of cell tower spoofers.

According to the warrant, Carcamo-Carranza was deported in 2012 and 2015 to El Salvador, but returned to the US.

In Feb. 28, 2016, he was arrested in Shelby Township, Michigan, on suspicion of hit-and-run, but was released by local police before he was detained by ICE agent.

Also of note: ICE used a warrant to pry loose this phone number, serving one to Facebook which gave it access to Carranza’s private messages. Just throwing that in there to add a bit more skepticism for the “Going Dark” theory. A phone that might be locked isn’t the end of the line for investigators, no matter how loudly law enforcement officials sigh during press conferences while gesturing ineffectively at a pile of seized devices.

As we always knew would happen, Stingray technology would soon shift from its more limited, “higher cause” deployment into just another tool for rote policework.

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Comments on “ICE Using Stingrays To Track Down Immigrants Because Of Course It Is”

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David says:

Do you want the bad guys to win?

As we always knew would happen, Stingray technology would soon shift from its more limited, "higher cause" deployment into just another tool for rote policework.

There are good guys, and there are bad guys. Whose side are you on?

Some guy may just be harrassing girls now, but be on the road to become a billion dollar serial swindler. Or president. Or both.

Whose side are you on?

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Do you want the bad guys to win?

Use of a Stingray device causes the accessing of computer systems and the interception of electronic communications. That’s what those machines DO.

Given that the technical term for someone who violates laws like electronic interception statutes and the CFAA is “criminal”, the law enforcement exemption to those laws absolutely requires a warrant, and the absence of a warrant means violating those laws is a felony, I have to say that I’m on the side of the good guys and law and order here.

The problem is that the criminals have badges and uniforms.

David says:

Re: Re: Do you want the bad guys to win?

I have to say that I’m on the side of the good guys and law and order here.

You can’t have both. We can’t constrain the good guys with law and order or they won’t get the bad guys done in.

Really, you make it sound like your TV set is broken and you have to rely on books for your education.

DannyB (profile) says:

Why use Stingray on Immigrants? The Secret of Stingray

Immigrants are unlikely to have the resources to successfully fight back or mount a legal defense that might expose Stingray.

Remember: Stingray is a secret. Everything about it is a secret. The secret is so important that obviously guilty must go free rather than expose the secret. Parallel construction must be used if necessary. But keeping the secret is the most important thing.

So what is the secret? I don’t know for sure, but I have a guess: Stingray is based on some weakness(es) fundamental in the cellular network technology and protocols. Like the Windows exploits that the NSA hoards, if the knowledge of the cellular network vulnerabilities were known, they would get fixed, and Stingray would cease to work. Another thought is that Stingray may be, or partly be, based on stolen credentials, keys, certificates, etc. If knowledge of these were disclosed, they would be revoked and/or changed.

These reasons, I think, are why the secrecy of Stingray is more important than anything else, including justice. When justice doesn’t matter, then why not use Stingray on immigrants? The thinking would be: only humans have rights under the constitution.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Why use Stingray on Immigrants? The Secret of Stingray

The secret is each and every use of this tech is illegal and against the express emergency only use portrayed by the company to the FCC when initially applied. Every use violated numerous state and federal laws and everything that results from its use is inadmissible in court.

TheUglyOne (profile) says:

Misleading Title

Somewhat a pet peeve but the title is misleading in that it says that stingray devises are targeting immigrants. While this is not a story about the politics of immigration it falsifies the premise of the story by not clarifying that these are undocumented immigrants being targeted. ICE covers all immigrants but this specifically targets undocumented. I compare this to one of my local radio stations covering an explosion in Manchester. That is true but not the story. The story was a terrorist attack not simply an explosion.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Everything is illegal except for the elite.

The conviction rate is 90% for those who cannot afford their own legal defense, and we commit three felonies a day.

You are a bad actor as soon as someone official wants you to be or decides you are. Then its up to you to prove your innocence.

The rich elite get all benefits of law, since they can afford someone credentialed to invoke it. Officials are nearly immune to law because they control on whom it is enforced.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Unequal enforcement of a law is unconstitutional. Since the law enforcement exemptions to the CFAA and wiretap statutes requires a warrant and police are not being charged for warrantless Stingray use, the government is essentially asserting that use of a Stingray does not count as unauthorized access or interception of electronic communications.

But I bet that wouldn’t stop them from prosecuting a private citizen for using one, especially if that citizen used one to spy on one of the elites.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: "Illegal"

Is illegal immigrants something like unlawful combatants? Once you decide someone has the authority to declare them illegitimate it’s okay to detain them indefinitely and imprison them?

The United States has a strict tradition of not requiring documentation for its citizens. So it starts getting weird when we require it for some (brown people) and not for others (white people).

Of course, it wasn’t always this way. Italian immigrants worked to suppress their ethnic tells and changed their names to Brown or Stone in order to pass.

Do be careful. You may learn that you, too, are illegal, and the Department of Justice just hasn’t yet had need to enforce your illegality.

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