Domestic spy program targeted Americans' mobiles

Lawmakers say law enforcement agencies used technology to capture information of thousands of mobile phones

Domestic spy program targeted Americans' mobiles

World Bulletin / News Desk

Evidence is mounting that the United States government tested mobile phone spying technology that monitors the information of thousands of phones in an area, according to a new report Friday.

In a letter released by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republican and Democrat leaders claim they have new information that the Justice Department tested technology that searches for a targeted mobile phone by capturing data from thousands of phones in an area and sifting through the information.

The gadgets, often called “dirtboxes” or “IMSI grabbers,” are flown around in a small airplane and intercept information from tens of thousands of phones. By mimicking signals sent out by mobile phone towers, the devices can require all phones in range to reveal positioning and other information. When a targeted phone is identified, location information is forwarded to law enforcement in order to make an arrest.

Law enforcement officials claim the devices are completely legal and deny that the initiative has been tested on innocent, unknowing Americans, but the letter suggests that a whistle-blower has come forwardd and stated otherwise.    

“The devices were reported employed from airplanes that interacted with the signals of real cell phones and captured their serial numbers—all without seeking a court order and without targeting a fugitive,” according to the senators’ letter. “If true, this report raises additional concerns and is not consistent with the [Justice Department’s] previous representations about these devices.”

The letter claims that the program was tested in three cities from 2004 - 2006 but doesn’t reveal which ones. A source familiar with the program, however, told The Wall Street Journal that the cities were Los Angeles, Atlanta and Houston.

The hardware was first developed to locate terrorists overseas. The Justice Department claims it is reviewing the senators’ letter.  

 

Last Mod: 27 Haziran 2015, 10:07
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