Tag Archives: cell site simulators

Naperville criminal defense attorneys, Illinois Law Limits Cell Phone SurveillanceIllinois Governor Bruce Rauner has signed a bill into law that limits how police officers can use devices designed to collect vast amounts of cell phone data. Privacy advocates, such as the ACLU, have highly praised the new legislation, calling it a much-needed protection of individuals’ rights to privacy. In recent months, cell site simulator device has been at the center of a lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department, in which plaintiffs are asking for the release of records showing how the police are using the technology.

How Cell Site Simulators Work

A cell site simulator, probably best known under the brand name “Stingray”, gathers phone usage data in a particular area. Obviously, the Stingray can be an important tool to obtain information about the target of a criminal investigation that police otherwise would be unable to access. However, the Stingray does not limit its scope to a particular person’s cell phone data. Rather, the cell site simulator has the capacity to gather data on other cell phones in the area, which can number in the hundreds or even in the thousands. This wide scope gives police virtually unfettered access to the cell phone data of many individuals who are likely not related to the police investigation in any way.

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Naperville criminal defense attorneys, cell site simulatorsIllinois police departments’ use of cell site simulators, known as Stingrays, is raising concerns about privacy and has inspired recent legislation in the Illinois legislature to regulate the use of such devices. Cell site simulators are used by the police to track mobile phone locations; however, they collect data from all phones in an area, not only from the particular phone the police are targeting. This has raised serious privacy concerns, and a bill is working its way through the Senate and House to restrict the use of Stingrays.

Cell Site Simulators

A cell site simulator is a suitcase-sized device used to track and locate cell phones. It works like a cell tower to capture data for cell phones in a particular neighborhood. Problematically, however, it is very imprecise and also receives data from hundreds or thousands of other, non-target phones in the area where the Stingray is being used.

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Naperville criminal defense attorneys, cell site simulatorsRecently, the Chicago Police Department has come under fire for its use of cell site simulators in criminal investigations. In response to concerns that the devices violate citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights, the state legislature introduced a bill that would address many of these concerns.

Cellular Tracking Equipment

Cell site simulators are electronic devices that allow users to determine a phone’s location by mimicking cell phone towers. The devices also make it possible for users, primarily law enforcement officials, to intercept phone calls and text messages from the target’s phone. However, once deployed, it is difficult to restrict the devices from intercepting data not only from the target phone, but from any cellular phones in the area.

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