California Sheriff Won't Answer Questions About Spying on Cell Phones (Video)
The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department has reportedly obtained a StingRay, a gadget that collects cell users' phone data (without a warrant) by pretending to be a cell tower. Sheriff Scott Jones, however, refuses to provide any information to California taxpayers.
Sheriff Jones recently became angry when a local news station dared to ask him about possible StingRay use (video below).
“Are you proud of disrupting an academy graduation?” Sheriff Scott growled at a News10 reporter.
“We’ve dealt with your incessant badgering of our department over these issues,” Sheriff Scott added.
While Sheriff Scott dodges questions from the press, it has been previously reported that the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department provided information about the StingRay to police in San Jose.
“While I am not familiar with what San Jose has said, my understanding is that the acquisition or use of this technology comes with a strict non-disclosure requirement,” Sacramento County Undersheriff James Lewis claimed in a written statement to News10. “Therefore, it would be inappropriate for us to comment about any agency that may be using the technology.”
However, Linda Lye of the ACLU, countered, “Government agencies cannot enter into private contracts in order to evade their statutory obligations.”
Wired reported earlier this month on emails uncovered by the ACLU that showed how the U.S. Marshals Service has been teaching local police not to mention StingRay use when asking judges for warrants.
“At the request of the Marshals Service, the officers using so-called StingRays have been routinely telling judges, in applications for warrants, that they obtained knowledge of a suspect’s location from a ‘confidential source’ rather than disclosing that the information was gleaned using a StingRay,” notes Wired.
This could be the case in Sacramento, where the County District Attorney's Office and Superior Court judges say they do not know of StingRays being used in the city.
"We request a search warrant in all of those cases," Sacramento County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Grippi told News10.
News10 reported in March that the StingRay was being used by police in nine cities, including Sacramento.