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Turning Your Phone On Is Consenting To Being Tracked

Baltimore Police obtained an arrest warrant for Kerron Andrews, in 2014, for attempted murder. In an attempt to find him, they used his cell phone. They requested a pen register order from a judge, in the request they mainly expressed the intent to locate him by getting location information, however they never said that they were going to use a Hailstorm (a type of Stingray) to track the cell phone. Not only did they fail to disclose this, they never got a warrant to actually use the device.

A Hailstorm is essentially an IMSI-catcher where it acts like a mobile tower and MITM attacks are conducted on cell phones that connect to it. A big problem is that it’s indiscriminate and ends up scooping up innocent bystanders’ information. It’s no secret that the Baltimore Police loves using Stingrays, Baltimore Sun reports that they “have used the technology 4,300 times since 2007.”

The response to a discovery request asking if police used a stringray was stalled for months until in June 2015, in a hearing right before trial, an investigator testified in court that a stingray was used and that it wasn’t disclosed in any reports. This secrecy is more than likely because of a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) with the FBI. After the hearing, a judge concluded that information was intentionally withheld from the defense by the police, violating their legal disclosure obligations.

In August 2015, another judge concluded that the police had violated Andrews’ Fourth Amendment right because they used Hailstorm without a warrant, and thus granted the defense’s request to suppress all evidence the police obtained as a result of using Hailstorm.

The Fourt Amendment is “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The state appealed this decision. In a recently filed brief, the state says that the Motion Court erred in:

  • Finding that use of a celluar tracking device to locate Andrews’ phone violated the Fourth Amendment
  • Finding that Andrews did not have to show standing before challenging the search of the home where he was arrested
  • Finding that the search warrant for the home where Andrews was located was invalid

For the first statement, the state argued that “The record generated in this case does not support the allegations and speculation of Andrews and the amici.” where the state then goes on to say “Andrews voluntarily shared this information with third parties.” Where “third parties” includes the police.

“While cell phones are ubiquitous, they all come with an “off” switches. If a cell phone is turned on, it is receiving signals from cell towers, and sending signals back out to cell towers. The cell site simulator used in this case took advantage of that fact in order to locate Andrews’ phone. Because Andrews chose to keep his cell phone on, he was voluntarily sharing the location of his cell phone with third parties.”

This means that turning your phone on is consenting to being tracked which is absolutely absurd.


  1. America fuck yeah. The land of the free.

    • Madara Uchiha

      * Certain restrictions may apply

    • Ha, you think this is only in the US? The technology has been there for decades, and is being used all over the world. Only difference, these guys got caught NOT abiding by US law, as in 4th amendment. Now, that’s on the local level. The Patriot Act pretty does away with the 4th amendment on the Federal level.

  2. So basically going outside your house is consenting to being tracked.
    By going outside and subjecting yourself to lightsources you make yourself vissible to others ergo you voluntarily disclose yourlocation to third parties.

  3. I hope that the fuckers (the state) lose. The only way to teach cops not to mess with the People’s rights is to deny them a criminal conviction.

    • Elvis Diablo

      Boy, that was well said and speaks volumes, everyone should ponder this powerful statement as it is one of the few remaining tools left to defend civil liberties…problem is…finding a judge that has even the slightest desire to choose conceptual liberty over pleasing the real life prosecutorial cronies he / she works with and the corrupt judicial system they want their careers to be rewarded by. Anyways, well said. Your statement can be filed under “things that make you go hmmmm” in the immortal words of Bushwick Bill “On the for real my nigga”…

  4. “a Faraday bag” is a must have!

    • What good would a faraday bag do you in this situation? As long as your phone is in the faraday bag it won’t work anyways, so you may as well be cruising with a phone thats turned off anyways, lol…..

  5. I just started using AIMSICD app (android imsi catcher detector) alerts you when a “hailstorm”or”stingray” is attempting to hijack your phone anyone famliar with how well the app actually works?

    • Anon.Hitler

      Maybe you will have to wait for the FBI to rewrite your app for “Extra security” just in case. You should write them and ask for the “special” app to protect against stingray. Maybe they will split some of their “spoils” of war in confiscated assests and pussy with you?

  6. slaveofthesystem

    So there is no privacy at all. The panopticon is set? We are all in the fishbowl. I started with this (tor) to be private but I guess I only painted a target on myself. Or am I wrong? I am new to this please advise.

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