Stingrays -- the trade name for an "IMSI catcher," a fake cellphone tower that tricks cellphones into emitting their unique ID numbers and sometimes harvests SMSes, calls, and other data -- are the most controversial and secretive law-enforcement tools in modern American policing. Harris, the company that manufactures the devices, swears police departments to silence about their use, a situation that's led to cops lying to judges and even a federal raid on a Florida police department to steal stingray records before they could be introduced in open court.
On Tuesday, US District Judge William Paule of the Second Federal Circuit threw out the DEA's stingray evidence against Raymond Lambis, ruling that using the device without a warrant was an improper search, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
This is the first time a US federal judge has thrown out evidence gathered by stingray.
"This opinion strongly reinforces the strength of our constitutional privacy rights in the digital age," ACLU attorney Nathan Freed Wessler said in a statement.
It was unclear whether prosecutors would seek to appeal. A spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office was prosecuting the case, declined to comment.
Federal judge throws out evidence gathered with 'stingray' cell phone tracker [Nate Raymond/Raw Story]