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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - More on: "Indiana State Police tracking cellphones — but won’t say how or why"

Updating this long post from Sunday, today Ryan Sabalow follows up his earlier Indianapolis Star report with another long story:

At least three state senators plan to introduce legislation that would ban police from gathering cell phone data without first acquiring a warrant.

Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Monday he would co-sponsor such legislation in the wake of an Indianapolis Star investigation that revealed the Indiana State Police had acquired a "Stingray" device for $373,995.

While State Police would not say how the intended to use the device, law enforcement officials elsewhere have said such equipment is a useful tool in fighting crime and terrorism.

But the suitcase-size device alarms civil liberties and open government groups because it can track the movements of anyone nearby with a cellphone. The equipment also captures the numbers of people's incoming and outgoing calls and text messages.

The fact that police won't discuss what they do with the data they collect, or whether they have privacy safeguards, also concerned some lawmakers.

"I'm not saying we should ban them totally," Steele said Monday. "But I think there's reasonable protections that our Constitution mandates and our society expects."

Other senators who expressed concerns Monday include Brent Waltz, Jim Smith and Mike Delph, all Republicans.

"The Indiana State Police, as other police agencies across the country, uses a variety of investigative tools to apprehend people who engage in criminal acts," said a spokesman, Capt. David Bursten. "To publicly reveal our methods only makes criminals smarter about law enforcement techniques."

Citing concerns that providing any information about the technology would jeopardize the agency's ability to fight terrorism and investigate crimes, police officials declined to comment for Sunday's story in The Star. The agency wouldn't answer questions about how the device is used, what's done with the data collected, or whether it obtains a search warrant before turning the device on. Other than a one-page purchase order, police also refused to provide The Star its contract with the company.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 10, 2013 09:35 AM
Posted to Indiana Government