This year, the Indiana State Police paid $373,995 for a device that law enforcement personnel have described as a powerful tool in the fight against crime and terrorism.
It could allow investigators in a surveillance vehicle to park in a crowded area and track the movements of anyone nearby with a cellphone and capture the numbers of people’s incoming and outgoing calls and text messages.
All of which concerns civil liberties and open-government groups.
They worry that the technology could be used to violate innocent Hoosiers’ constitutionally protected rights to privacy if proper checks and balances aren’t in place.
But officials at Indiana’s largest police agency aren’t saying what they do with the technology; they’re mum on whose data they’ve collected so far; and they’re not talking about what steps they take to safeguard the data.
Citing concerns that releasing any information would endanger public safety by hindering the agency’s ability to fight crime and combat terrorism, they won’t even say whether they ask a judge for a search warrant before they turn the equipment on.
On a national level, police officials at other agencies say that such secrecy is essential to thwart terror attacks and fight crime. Some said the devices are used in extraordinary circumstances, and only to hunt for a single phone at a time, not to collect data from thousands of callers.
But a joint investigation of the Indianapolis Star and USA Today found instances in which police in some cities across the U.S. used cellphone snooping techniques in less urgent and more questionable ways.
In one case, a South Carolina sheriff obtained cellphone data from an unknown number of people — just to investigate a rash of car burglaries that included the theft of guns from the sheriff’s SUV.
In another instance, Miami police told the city council they intended to collect cellphone data to track protesters at a world trade event.
Civil liberties groups say that giving police the authority to secretly collect bulk cellphone data has unprecedented potential for abuse. Searching cellphone data, they say, ought to require a warrant as is required to search a home or a car.
Continue reading at: http://archive.indystar.com/article/20131208/NEWS/312080012/Indiana...
At that price I doubt it's portable. I just don't understand all the interest of tracking peoples cell phones. Sure it's a record of past locations, but proving who was in possession of the phone, when it was where ever is unnecessary for convicting anybody. Just the fact of being on trial is enough.