Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz Introduces New Anti-Surveillance Bill

Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz has introduced a new bill that will preclude local police and government agencies from using technology to capture the cell phone communication and location information of individuals without a proper warrant.

The American Civil Liberties Union has stated that at least 57 state and local police departments and at least 13 federal government agencies use Stingray, a highly sophisticated tracking device.

Chaffetz’s bill, Stingray Privacy Act, makes use of Stingray without a warrant punishable by a hefty fine or a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

Chaffetz is also the head of The House Government Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The committee is currently investigating further into the usage of the suitcase-size device.

Chaffetz said, “The abuse of stingrays and other cell site simulators by individuals, including law enforcement, could enable gross violations of privacy.”

Stingray, also known as “dirtboxes” impersonate cell phone towers using weBoost Home 4G to intercept the communication of individuals. Polices uses the location and communication data to track down criminals. However, they also intercept the data from the cell phones of other innocent individuals who happen to be in the area.

The FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the IRS all use stingray for their operations.

According to Chaffetz, “The fact that law enforcement agencies, and non-law enforcement agencies such as the IRS, have invested in these devices raises serious questions about who is using this technology and why.” He added that there is a need for strict guidelines on the usage of such surveillance technologies that are firmly rooted in the law.

Khurram Aziz is a web entrepreneur who trained as a journalist. He is a freelance writer, runs online ventures, and consults on WordPress and Magento web development.