Cell-Site Simulators and Related Privacy Implications

Posted on 11-18-2016 by
Tags: IP , Privacy , Lexis Practice Advisor , cell-site simulators , intellectual property , technology

Cell site simulators are surveillance devices sometimes used by law enforcement to find the precise location of a person’s cell phone and ultimately locate the phone’s owner. According to Jim Astrachan and Christopher Lyon, as the use of these once secret devices comes to light, efforts to exclude the results are increasing significantly. They explain how these devices, marketed under brand names such as “Stingray,” “Hailstorm” or “Triggerfish,” are often used:

Cell-site simulators enable law enforcement officers to gather, employ, and reveal private information about people, information in which it can be argued that there are reasonable expectations of privacy. This protected information includes:

  • Private details behind the walls of a person’s home
  • Content of a person’s communications
  • Data stored on a person’s cell phone
  • A person’s real-time, or present moment, cell phone location

Each time law enforcement uses a cell-site simulator to obtain, gather, employ, or reveal one or more items of protected information, the questions could be raised as to whether a “search” that implicates privacy interests protected by the Fourth Amendment has occurred.

For additional coverage of cell-site simulator technology and the related privacy considerations, view the full article on the Lexis Practice Advisor Journal website.

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