The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department acknowledged this week that it possesses and uses surveillance technology that allows detectives to collect location data from the cellphones of investigative targets, possibly without a court order.

The so-called “Stingray technology” is controversial in part because it also collects location data from nearby cellphone users. However, Sheriff Scott Jones said in a statement released to The Sacramento Bee that such “collateral” data is not kept by investigators.

It is the first time that Jones has admitted his agency’s use of the device since inquiries and a series of stories by Channel 10. He said in the statement that a confidentiality agreement with the federal government, which provided the technology, prevented him from acknowledging use or ownership of the device despite his “demonstrated commitment to transparency…”

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