[Using StingRays, the Anaheim Police Department] can locate, interfere with, and even intercept communications from cell phones and other wireless devices. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has used such cell site simulator technology to track and locate phones and users since at least 1995” (Electronic Privacy Information Center, 2015).

Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada released a statement yesterday “to provide clarification as to the use of this technology [cell-site simulators] by the Anaheim Police Department [APD] to reinforce the high level of trust and transparency.” The department pAPD winreviously issued only no comments to several public record requests. My recent oral request and my written request for information about the department’s use of StingRays received only a “no comment” from the senior public information officer and a non-response response from the Anaheim City Attorney. Thus, the Chief’s phrase, “to reinforce the high level of trust and transparency,” serves only to magnify a lack of trust, transparency, and openness.

The public knows almost nothing more about the surreptitious and arguably unconstitutional use of StingRay surveillance than it did before the chief’s non-enlightening press release. To assert that the department always receives a signed warrant before using this technology is neither convincing nor persuasive. Too many police departments have lied about their use of StingRays.

“This judicial oversight ensures that usage of the cell site simulator meets the legal threshold for the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution for the State of California.” Judicial oversight? The use of StingRays has continued in the absence of judicial oversight, marked by the absence of case law, so the idea of “legal threshold” does not make sense. The use of StingRays during an “exigent circumstance” is a condition the chief alone defines, so his statement adds nothing to the public’s knowledge about the use of StingRays in Anaheim.

The chief assures us that the police department “does not retain third­ party information on that it encounters in the process of locating the targeted cellphone, [and that] the device does not create or feed any sort of database.” Having asserted that the APD has maintained a “high level of trust and transparency,” this statement reveals otherwise, only yesterday confirming the use of StingRays in Anaheim. It can be assumed that data are collected, but for how many days, weeks, months, or years are they stored and accessible? When StingRays are used, data are collected, but if they have any use, data must be stored for some period. The question is which data are collected and stored for how long—concerns about which the chief provided no information.

The use of collected data by a consortium in Michigan should concern every community in the nation. Federal agencies, the FBI and 124 police departments contribute to and share a police database, which almost 2,000 police officers can access from squad cars. Data accessible include “juvenile records, Social Security numbers, vehicle identification numbers, license plates, addresses, gun registration and other personal information.” The public and the press are banned from board meetings of the organization.

Anaheim’s chief likely erred in this disclosure: “[StingRays] cannot identify the operator of a cellphone, cannot intercept the content of calls or texts, and our personnel do not have the ability to listen to calls or read text messages using this device.” His description of this technology likely violates the agreement between the City of Anaheim and Harris Corporation, language likely the same or highly similar to the agreement in effect between Harris Corporation and the city of Tucson, Arizona, and other cities:

The City of Tucson shall not discuss, publish, release or disclose any information pertaining to the Products covered under this NDA to any third party individual, corporation, or other entity, including any affiliated or unaffiliated State, County, City, Town or Village, or other governmental entity without the prior written consent of Harris . . . The City of Tucson is subject to the Arizona Public Records Law. A.R.S. sec 39-121, et seq. While the City will not voluntarily disclose any Protected Product, in the event that the city receives a Public Records request from a third party relating to any Protected Product, or other information Harris deems confidential, the City will notify Harris of such a request and allow Harris to challenge any such request in court. The City will not take a position with respect to the release of such material, beyond its contractual duties, but will assist Harris in any such challenge.

Chief Quezada’s statement says noting more than “Anaheim police use StingRays. Trust us; we will never misuse this technology.” Anaheim citizens deserve more from a police department that to date has not acted transparently. By using StingRays, the APD collects data from thousands of innocent members of the public without their consent—and previously without their knowledge. The chief’s only contribution this week was acknowledging their use.