During crime television shows, you often see agents sitting in a van and listening to someone in a completely different place. These agents listen to people via bugs and wires. Today, the same thing is still happening, but with a newer technology. This privacy-intrusive device is known as a “Stingray.”
A Stingray is a machine that pretends to be a cell phone tower. This device emits a strong false cell signal and your phone automatically connects to it. Joke’s on you because it’s the Government, not a real cell tower. All your communication then moves through this little box; calls, texts, voicemails, everything (with the Government listening in, of course). After communication waves are moved through the Stingray, they are sent out like normal.
However, not only does the device allow your conversations to be read/heard, but it also gives away your location.
When we are aware we are being watched, we avoid “the pursuit of happiness.” It freezes the citizen’s ability to communicate freely the ideas, thoughts, and beliefs that make America great. These devices are an invasion of personal property of the fourth and fifth amendment.
When all our communication goes through the Stingray, we can be unknowingly searched and scrutinized with the flip of a switch.
Back in 1928, a famous Supreme Court case (Olmstead vs. United States) took place in which bootleggers were “unreasonably” convicted of unlawfully transporting, selling, and possessing alcohol. Law enforcement got wind of this conspiracy to violate the Prohibition Act, and began wiretapping phones belonging to said bootleggers. Olmstead argued that the evidence collected during the wiretapping of private telephone conversations violated the 4th and 5th amendments. It was decided in 1929 that the use of private wiretapped phone conversations, obtained by federal agents without a warrant, could be used to prove a criminal’s conduct and did not violate the fourth and fifth amendments.
After the final decision was made, Judge Brandeis stated in his dissent that “the right to be let alone is the most important right we have.” If our papers, emails, phone calls, texts, and homes are being watched, how are we being “let alone?”
Fortunately, today, a warrant is required to listen to our private conversations because we have a reasonable expectation of privacy. But who knows? With the flip of a switch or tapping of a key, we can be monitored – and who will know? Previously, agents had to enlist assistance of telephone company to tap a phone. No longer is this necessary, so beware. Don’t get stung by a ray.
Do not hesitate to give us a call if you, or someone you know, has been a victim of unlawful search and seizure. You can contact us now at 904-355-6777 or click here to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to serving you.