A civil liberties group has discovered emails showing that the US government has concealed police use of fake mobile base stations which can spy on citizens without requiring search warrants since at least 2009.

Emails obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union show that federal law enforcement officials insisted police in Sacramento, Florida conceal their use of the devices, known as “StingRay”, in order to prevent criminals from learning how to get around them.

Sgt. Ken Castro of the Sarasota Police Department sent emails to members of the North Port Police Department in April 2009, informing them that the US Marshals Service requested that police not disclose StingRay in court depositions, but instead refer to it as “information from a confidential source regarding the location of the suspect”.

The North Port Police Department implemented the new rules and continues to avoid mentioning StingRay, according to the emails.

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