New DHS policy demands warrants before deploying Stingrays

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The Department of Homeland Security announced a substantial policy change Wednesday regarding how it employs cellphone-tracking tools like the Stingray system. These cell-site simulators have been in use for more than a decade. They allow law enforcement to find cell phones either by directly searching for a known device or find an unknown device by sniffing for signaling information from the simulator's immediate vicinity and triangulating that data. The new policy explicitly demands that DHS personnel acquire a warrant before deploying the devices unless an exception, such as the imminent loss of human life, destruction of evidence, or to prevent the escape of a fugitive felon. Wednesday's announcement follows a similar decision by the Department of Justice last month.

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