Washington state Governor Jay Inslee signed into law Monday legislation requiring law enforcement to obtain warrants before deploying IMSI catchers, commonly referred to as Stingray cell phone interceptors.
The suitcase-sized devices, which operate by mimicking a cell tower, force nearby mobile phones into sharing specific data including location and identifying information.
The bi-partisan bill, HB 1440, passed both the House and Senate last month without a single no vote.
HB 1440’s primary sponsor, Republican Rep. David Taylor, spoke exclusively with Infowars on the significance of the bill’s passage.
“Given the rise of the use of cell tower simulators throughout the US and the questionable use last year in Tacoma, WA, this bill was necessary to protect the constitutional rights of the citizens we serve,” Taylor said. “When Congress fails to act, it’s up to the states to protect and preserve our constitutional rights.”
Further investigation detailed that the department had signed a nondisclosure agreement with the FBI, keeping the device’s capabilities secret from even the city council members who approved its purchase.
HB 1440 aims to protect Washington citizens from local entities by protecting a person’s “electronic data or metadata.”
The state and its political subdivisions shall not collect or use a person’s electronic data or metadata or assist, participate in or with, or provide material support or resources for or to enable or facilitate a federal agency or the agency of another state in the collection or use of a person’s electronic data or metadata, without that person’s informed consent, a warrant, based upon probable cause, that describes with particularity the person, place, or thing to be searched or seized, or acting in accordance with a legally recognized exception to the warrant requirements.
Law enforcement will also be required to delete specific information if obtained inadvertently during the course of warranted investigations.
In light of increased public scrutiny, the U.S. Justice Department earlier this month began a full review of the IMSI catcher program in order to specify how the devices are used by law enforcement.
Despite most departments acquiring IMSI catchers under the guise of combating terrorism, multiple reports have found police to be using them thousands of times for mundane incidents including missing city laptops.