Feds admit they used secret anti-terror mass surveillance tool to catch an undocumented waiter

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/05/19/swatting-jaywalkers-with-tacti.html

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“…wanted for a DUI and a hit-and-run.”

Sounds good to me. Good work, boys.


Any tool made available for use by law enforcement will be abused. MRAPs made available for mass casualty events will eventually be used to deliver warrants.


Billions of dollars for one non-terrorism arrest is a pretty rotten ROI for the American tax payer. I’m left wondering if this was a test search to prove the technology, then full-on police state follows in a few years?


Yeah, I’m not really seeing the problem here.


The problem is that the creation of the tool was justified with the intent that it would be used only in specific cases where national security was at stake. That does not describe this situation even if the accused is someone who should be deported.


Exactly. And i would add:


The existence of IMSI catchers was a closely kept secret for a long time…

Want to totally blow your secret weapon? Step 1: Use it for trivial reasons. Step 2: It is no longer a secret weapon.

Remember that internet classic about what not to do if you’re an evil overlord? I do not think any of the candidates for evil overlord, great or small, have ever read it.


their advocates have consistently said the secrecy was warranted because the tools were only used to fight the most serious crimes, and general knowledge of the tools’ existence could compromise national security

Well, there you go, then. By revealing the tools, law enforcement were practically forced to use them for every type of investigation possible!


Reminds me of…

The problem is not law enforcement. They have always and will always do crazy shit under the guise of keeping us safe from the boogeyman. Keeping them in check is important but, in the current environment, it is a fool’s errand.

Keeping the government out of our communications is not particularly difficult. But the mobile phone providers have no interest in such things. They have no interest because of the laissez-faire attitude of the average American consumer. We want fast, pretty, energy sucking game devices with essentially no concern for privacy or security. And that’s what they give us.

If you want the federal government to stop wasting money on Stingray demand end-to-end encryption from your mobile phone service.


we need an open source Stingray that costs 100 bucks and is made out of a raspberry PI.

We’ll then get (more) secure phones, and a cease to the warrantless spying. (by that method)


I didn’t realize that had ever applied to the creation of these devices, but in light of the fact they’ve been triangulating off cell towers for a heck of a lot longer than these things have been around, I didn’t really see a big difference. Kind of like I don’t have a box-end wrench but this socket-wrench set will be even better.

Now if they’d used it to snarf his data to go fishing for something to charge him, (whacking him over the head with said socket-wrench), with then that’s a whole different matter!

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You can totally do this for <$100 already.

No, really, if you want the old-skool route you can pick up old base stations on eBay, and the cool kids can tie an SDR chip to Raspberry Pi super easy!

But, uh, it’s illegal…


immediately checks size of air-duct diameter


“Superweapon”, my ass, just a vacuum-cleaner collector and they’re starting to get a bit moldy as they overuse them, and people have the tools and reason to go looking for it.


What the magic words “national security” mean, exactly, is hardly clear. Academics can describe theories of national security after the fact, but going forward politicians are just making it up as they go.

Is deporting an individual criminal alien a matter of “national security”?

I am sure there is at least one American who believes it is, and will say so on TV.


This one?


My noble half-brother whose throne I usurped will be killed,

Oops. Looks like Kim Jong Un has been reading this too.


nr 99 needs updating


I guess that carrying an encrypted phone would probably be made an offence.


National Security (noun): the means by which the ruling elite are protected from the nation as a whole.