Two years after they said they didn't, Toronto police admit they use Stingray cellphone snooping device

Posted
March 5, 2018
Article Source
Toronto Star

After denying use of the controversial technology, documents obtained by the Star show that the Toronto Police Service has used the cellphone data-capturing device known as an IMSI catcher, or Stingray, in five separate investigations.

IMSI catchers capture identifying data from all mobile devices being used in a given location -- including, in the context of a police investigation, the data of innocent citizens in the vicinity of the target.

In December 2015, a Toronto police spokesperson told the Star: "We do not use the Stingray technology and do not have one of the units."

The documents, which took more than two years to obtain through an access-to-information request and subsequent appeal with the province's information commissioner, say otherwise. They show that Toronto police used the technology in investigations ranging from a major drug and gun case to a bank robbery to a missing person case, starting in 2010.

Asked why the spokesperson, Const. Craig Brister, said Toronto police did not use the device and then why police failed to correct the record, Mark Pugash, head of communications for the service, said: "We should have."

Brenda McPhail, a privacy, technology and surveillance expert with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA), said there has been a long-standing lack of transparency surrounding police use of the devices.

"It's troubling that it took a freedom of information request to confirm, despite past denials, that the (Toronto police) have been using IMSI catchers," McPhail said.

Read more: Two years after they said they didn't, Toronto police admit they use Stingray cellphone snooping device