Volume 53

Stingray Searches and the Fourth Amendment Implications of Modern Cellular Surveillance

by Austin McCullough

Since the Snowden revelations, law enforcement agencies’ broad technological surveillance tactics have come under greater public scrutiny. One such surveillance technique is the StingRay, which is a device used to gather information. Unlike other devices, the StingRay can collect serial numbers and locations from surrounding cell phones without the phone owners’ knowledge. StingRays are substantially different than previous phone-tracking technology, as they are not only capable of revealing phones’ location, but they also record phone numbers and the content of voice and text communication. Law enforcement agencies go to great lengths to keep StingRays mired in obscurity and maintain their secrecy. As these devices are challenged in courts, their use implicates numerous, unaddressed concerns under the Fourth Amendment.

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