If you’ve ever filed a public records request with your local police department to learn more about how cell-site simulators are used in your community—chances are good that the FBI knows about it. And the FBI will attempt to “prevent disclosure” of such information.
Not only can these devices, commonly known as “stingrays,” be used to determine a phone’s location, but they can also intercept calls and text messages. During the act of locating a phone, stingrays also sweep up information about nearby phones. Last fall, Ars reported on how a handful of cities across America are currently upgrading to new hardware that can target 4G LTE phones.
The newest revelation about the FBI comes from a June 2012 letter written by the law enforcement agency to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. It was first acquired and published by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in December 2014—similar language likely exists between the FBI and other local authorities that use stingrays.