City officials silent on cell phone tracking device bought by APD
ANCHORAGE (KTUU) The Anchorage Police Department will not say if it using a controversial surveillance device that privacy advocates say might infringe on the public’s constitutional rights. But records obtained by KTUU show the department has purchased such a device. …
The money came from a Department of Homeland Security grant, Huen said.
The KingFish lets users track and gather data from cell phones. According to privacy watchers and media accounts, police departments in many parts of the country are using the KingFish or similar devices — sometimes called Stingrays – to catch criminal suspects and fugitives.
The device works by mimicking a cell phone tower and tricking nearby cell phones into responding. When the phone connects with the KingFish or a similar tracking device, the gadget reveals the phone’s serial number and location. Some models can also intercept the contents of phone calls and texts, collect information about what numbers the phone called and how long conversations lasted, and figure out which websites the phone browsed. Others models can deactivate phones or make phones ring. …
“When this device is operated you’re not only intercepting the communications of the target who may or may not be involved in some sort of criminality but you’re also intercepting the communications of law-abiding Americans and invading their privacy and invading their rights. So it’s deeply concerning,” said James Christie, an Anchorage defense attorney.