Since September of 2013, I have been trying to get access to public data from both Hennepin County Sheriff’s office and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA-state FBI) on Kingfish and Stingray (cellular exploitation devices). These devices particularly by the BCA have been bought in secret without the Legislature knowing about it. $600,000 plus of state general funds have been used to buy the cellular devices.
In previous posts I have done and in the media there has been discussion of 4th Amendment privacy intrusions by the use of this kind of equipment. Currently, these machines are being used without a search warrant in Minnesota. There is legislation now pending before the Legislature that will address this issue among others how government get access to your location data. Location data is information that third parties (Verizon, etc) collect on you as you use and carry your smart/cell phone in your pocket.
The letter below is where the BCA finally gives the public knowledge/confirmation that they have the Kingfish and Stingray. Also where they acknowledge that they have a contract with Harris Corporation. I still have not gotten the contract between the BCA and the Harris Corporation.
The letter below I received from the BCA in response to my re-request for the Kingfish/Stingray contract, and to review the inactive criminal investigations in which the Kingfish/Stingray was used. The letter below was dated February 14, 2014. Tomorrow I will be inspecting and reviewing the inactive criminal investigations. I will let you know what I get.
We are writing in response to your follow-up data request regarding the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s (BCA) cellular exploitation equipment.
In this follow-up request you asked for the following:
- All inactive criminal investigations in which the equipment has been utilized
- The contract for the equipment
- The number of times the equipment was used by the BCA.
You noted in a follow-up email on February 11, 2014 that you would like these requests treated as separate requests for each of your questions given your understanding that gathering the data related to the inactive cases will take the BCA some time to compile.
So, I will address the second point in your request regarding the contract. As we have previously noted, the contract with the company was not released per your previous request pursuant to our letter dated October 3, 2013. In that letter, we explained that the data is considered both deliberative process data under Minn. Stat. §13.82, Subd. 25 as disclosure would reveal information regarding investigative techniques that would compromise ongoing and future criminal investigations. In addition, we previously noted that the data was also trade secret information pursuant to Minn. Stat. §13.37, Subd. 1(b). We continue to classify this contract under these two statutes and the contract cannot be released as such.
However, after further consultation and discussion since your original request, we have released information related to this equipment and acknowledge that the equipment owned by the BCA is (1) Stingray II and (1) Kingfish which are used as cellular exploitation devices. These devices are manufactured by Harris Corporation.
We continue to work on the other portions of your request and will be in contact when progress has been made. Please understand the data you are requesting are part of voluminous case files that will require full review and redaction prior to your inspection.
I have also attached a copy of the letter that was sent to our legislature for your review of some other information related to this equipment.
Drew Evans | Assistant Superintendent
MN Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
1430 Maryland Ave. E
St. Paul, MN 55106″