Homeland Security says it can’t counter a popular spy tool. Really?
“Most of this is functional data, the bits needed for a machine to work and interact with the other machines that together create a communications network. Yet even that incidental data is meaningful, and personally identifiable. And, as reported by the Associated Press earlier this week, the same tools used by domestic law enforcement and intelligence agencies to collect that data have been used by other, nefarious actors to pick up on that same ambient data. The devices in question are ‘StingRays,’ small machines that mimic the functions of cellphone towers in order to scoop up the data sent out from nearby phones. Here’s how Ars Technica explained the technology in 2013: It’s a box-shaped portable device, sometimes described as an ‘IMSI catcher,’ that gathers information from phones by sending out a signal that tricks them into connecting to it.”