House Committee on House Oversight and Government Reform members are demanding the full list of federal agencies using StingRay cell-phone surveillance systems — and whether those agencies get warrants first — after learning last month the IRS has the hush-hush technology.
Committee members told 24 agency heads in a letter Monday to provide the cost, number of devices and policies for StingRays. The devices simulate a cell tower so cell phones and other wireless devices nearby connect to it rather than a real tower. The device enables the user to see and record a cell phone’s ID number and rough location.
The Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice recently changed its Stingray policies so agents now have prior judicial approval to use the device. The panel’s chairman, Rep. [crscore]Jason Chaffetz[/crscore], recently introduced a bill to make all federal agencies get a warrant first.
“As it was with DOJ and DHS before those agencies issued department-wide policies governing use of the devices, the committee is concerned that other federal agencies may be governed by a patchwork of policies,” the letter said. “Those policies may permit the use of cell-site simulator devices through a lower standard than a search warrant obtained after a showing of probable cause.”
The letter comes a week after the committee sent a similar letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, demanding to know more about the IRS’ use of StingRay technology, first reported by the Guardian.
The committee gave agencies a 5 p.m. deadline on Nov. 23.
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