Mobile security experts discovered what appears to be more than 15 IMSI catchers, commonly referred to as Stingrays, throughout the Washington D.C. area this week.
Interceptors detected in Washington DC. pic.twitter.com/KSFrk2374h
— ESD America (@esdamerica) September 17, 2014
Les Goldsmith and Buzz Burner of ESD America joined IntegriCell President Aaron Turner Tuesday to travel around the nation’s capitol in an attempt to find evidence of “rogue cell towers” with a CryptoPhone, a mobile device which measures three indicators associated with active IMSI catchers.
These surveillance devices, which are often the size of a suitcase, can trick thousands of user’s phones into divulging private information by mimicking a cell tower. During their test, the group detected more than 40 alerts from 15 seperate interceptors around several of D.C.’s most historic landmarks including the White House, the Capitol and multiple foreign embassies.
“I think there’s even more here,” Goldsmith told the Washington Post. “That was just us driving around for a day and a half.”
Most often used by law enforcement, cell phone interceptors have received increased attention as of late, causing the federal government to distance themselves from the illegal practice of mass surveillance.
Speaking with CBS Chicago earlier this month, former FBI agent and security analyst Ross Rice attempted to deny law enforcement’s active involvement.
“I doubt that they are installed by law enforcement as they require a warrant to intercept conversations or data and since the cell providers are ordered by the court to cooperate with the intercept, there really would be no need for this,” Rice said. “Most likely, they are installed and operated by hackers, trying to steal personal identification and passwords.”
While Rice very well may be uninformed on the subject, countless investigations have found law enforcement to be regularly deceiving the public regarding the use of IMSI catchers.
Documents uncovered by Seattle Privacy Coalition’s Phil Mocek last month revealed that the Tacoma, Wash. police department has been secretly using a Stringray for more than 6 years.
“These devices are often used to spy on innocent people’s words, locations and associations,” Mocek told Infowars.
Later reports indicated that the department used a nondisclosure agreement with the FBI to keep the transaction secret. Police in turn told Tacoma City Council members, who approved the purchase, that the device was designed to locate “IEDs.”
A report last March from Wired Magazine revealed how one Florida police department used a Stingray more than 200 times without ever acquiring a warrant. Similarly, the department pointed to a non-disclosure agreement with the device’s manufacturer as reasoning for their unconstitutional activity.
Emails uncovered earlier this year even showed how the U.S. Marshals Service secretly taught police how to lie to judges when trying to obtain a Stingray. U.S. Marshals even went as far as raiding a Florida police department in order to keep Stingray documents from reaching the public.
The barrage of news has even prompted people across the country to begin their own investigations, with one resident of Charlotte, North Carolina recently finding a mysterious tower not operated by one of the major telecommunications companies.
Late last year, Infowars received exclusive documents revealing a seperate cell phone interception system blanketing the city of Seattle. The DHS-funded “mesh network” allows law enforcement groups to communicate through “mesh network nodes,” which also have the ability to track cell users throughout the city.