Saturday, September 5, 2015

Hudson County has a StingRay.

According to a September 4, 2015 Reason.com article, police nationwide are using a device called a StingRay that can, by impersonating a cell tower, collect location data from virtually all cell phones within the area where the StingRay is deployed.  In a February 2013 article, the Electronic Frontier Foundation referred to StingRays as "an unconstitutional, all-you-can-eat data buffet."

After I read in an ACLU report that said that the extent of New Jersey's use of StingRay devices was "unknown," I submitted OPRA requests to two county prosecutors--Atlantic and Hudson--to test the waters.  Atlantic claims to have no StingRays while Hudson admits that it has one.

According to documents Hudson provided in response to my request, Executive Assistant Prosecutor Gennaro Rubino on April 16, 2015 sought $215,909.02 to buy a StingRay.  In his requisition paperwork, Rubino said that while "the equipment does not record the content of any transmissions," the StingRay, which is made by the Harris Corporation of Melbourne, Florida "will assist . . . in locating fugitives and similar violent offenders."  On May 14, 2015, the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders unanimously approved the expenditure.

In response to my request for records showing what the StingRay is used for, Assistant Prosecutor Leonardo V. Rinaldi denied access claiming that disclosure "would materially increase the risk or consequence of potential acts of sabotage or terrorism."