Tags: us marshals | dirtboxes | cell | data

US Marshals: Dirtboxes Gathering Cell Phone Information Are Legal

Image: US Marshals: Dirtboxes Gathering Cell Phone Information Are Legal
U.S. Marshals Service logo. (wikimedia/commons)

By    |   Monday, 17 Nov 2014 04:59 PM

A U.S. Marshal Service spy program using dirtboxes — devices that mimic cell phone towers to gather cell phone data — was defended by the Justice Department Friday as being legal.

The Wall Street Journal broke the story Thursday about the program, which gathers data for the Justice Department and involves putting dirtboxes on airplanes to gather cell phone information from thousands of phones in one flight.

A Justice official, without confirming or denying that such a program existed, said all agencies follow federal law and would get court approval when needed.

The Wall Street Journal said that, although the program may be targeting criminal activity, data is collected from numerous innocent Americans when the dirtboxes are used.

“The technology is aimed at locating cellphones linked to individuals under investigation by the government, including fugitives and drug dealers, but it collects information on cellphones belonging to people who aren't criminal suspects, these people said. They said the device determines which phones belong to suspects and ‘lets go’ of the non-suspect phones,” the newspaper wrote.

A WSJ graphic detailing how dirtboxes work was posted on numerous sites and social media, and many people spoke up about rights violations by such spying initiatives.





This issue isn’t new. In Washington, the Tacoma News Tribune reported earlier this year on the use of such devices, which the newspaper called Stingrays, and questioned their use by police. On Saturday, Superior Court judges said they didn’t understand from police paperwork how much information was gathered and directed police to fill paperwork out more extensively in the future.

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A U.S. Marshal Service spy program using dirtboxes - devices that mimic cell phone towers to gather cell phone data - was defended by the Justice Department Friday as being legal.
us marshals, dirtboxes, cell, data
322
2014-59-17
Monday, 17 Nov 2014 04:59 PM
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