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Thursday, December 19, 2013

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

Updating this ILB entry from Dec. 10th, Ryan Sabalow and Tony Cook of the Indianapolis Star report today in a story headed "Gov. Pence supports limited use of cellphone surveillance device" that:

Calling them a vital law enforcement tool that saves lives, Gov. Mike Pence today said he supports Indiana State Police using devices that allow officers to obtain cellphone data from potentially hundreds of people at a time.

But he wouldn’t address questions about whether police obtain search warrants before turning on the devices.

Speaking with reporters, Pence said he met with police officials last Thursday for a briefing after an Indianapolis Star report revealed the agency had acquired a “Stingray” device for $373,995.

“I believe this technology is in the interest of public safety, and I believe it has enhanced our ability to both protect and save lives,” Pence told reporters. “I was informed that in the limited number of cases where this technology has been used that it has only been used with strict judicial oversight.”

But when pressed, Pence didn’t answer repeated questions about whether the agency obtains search warrants before turning on the devices. * * *

A group of Indiana state senators are drafting legislation that would require Indiana police officials to obtain search warrants. They are concerned the devices could be abused, violating Hoosiers’ rights to privacy from unlawful searches by government agencies.

The suitcase-sized devices can track the movements of anyone nearby with a cellphone. The equipment also captures the phone numbers of people’s incoming and outgoing calls and text messages. * * *

But the technology often is used with a simple court order, not a warrant that would require detectives and prosecutors to present to a judge why they believe a crime occurred.

Court orders generally require detectives to show only that the data collected would aid in an investigation, a standard that’s much easier to meet.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 19, 2013 01:54 PM
Posted to Indiana Government