The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has acknowledged for the first time that cellphone surveillance equipment may have been deployed in the nation’s capital by foreign actors seeking to track cellphone and potentially intercept calls and messages.
In a March 26th letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, DHS acknowledged it has not determined the type of device used or the identity of the persons who may be operating it, but said it has detected “anomalous activity” consistent with cell-site simulator use.
Cell-site simulators, sometimes called “Stingrays” after one of the more popular models produced by the Harris Corporation, are a type of phone-surveillance technology used by police throughout the United States. Roughly the size of a suitcase, they are capable of tracking cellphones and may also be used in some cases to intercept the content of calls, text messages, and other forms of data.
They also known as “IMSI catchers” because they track suspects by identifying a cellphone’s unique International Mobile Subscriber Identity number.
Cell-site simulators were previously deployed by US troops in the Middle East but were later modified for domestic law enforcement use. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the US Marshals office, and the Secret Service are known to employ cell-site simulators; however, today they are used in secret at almost every level of law enforcement.
Read More: Gizmodo