Civil liberties groups ask FCC to probe Baltimore police use of cellphone tracking devices
Several civil liberties organizations filed a complaint asking the Federal Communications Commission to investigate the use of cellphone tracking devices by the Baltimore Police Department.
The complaint alleges that the Baltimore police, like many other police agencies across the country, are using devices that mimic cellphone towers to track suspects through their cellphone locations, in violation of federal law that requires a license. The groups are also alleging that the use of the disruptive surveillance technology overwhelmingly affects black residents — and does so without appropriate transparency and oversight. “There’s a pattern of law enforcement agencies around the country engaging in racially discriminatory policing, and that extends to surveillance technology,” said Laura Moy, director of Georgetown University’s Institute for Public Representation, who filed the complaint on behalf of the groups. The Communications Act, the groups say, requires a license to operate the devices on frequencies reserved for wireless carriers. But an FCC official said that local police agencies do not need a license under the law. She said at one point that the devices did not transmit on the wireless spectrum — which experts dispute. At another point, she suggested that local law enforcement is exempt from the requirement. In general, she could not give a clear explanation of why a license was not needed.
Civil liberties groups ask FCC to probe Baltimore police use of cellphone tracking devices Baltimore police accused of illegal mobile spectrum use with stingrays (ars technica)