Cell phone spy devices used multitude of times, but no documentation


Since last September with my first data request to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, I have been finding out more and more how the agency has been very secretive to keep from the public and policymakers information. Information that the public and policymakers have a right to have.

What we Minnesotans have found out since last last fall is that the Bureau since 2005 has spent hundreds of thousands of public dollars on devices that can locate and pinpoint individuals very precisely. Through data requests and the media we have found out that these devices have been used hundreds of times by the Bureau and local law enforcement agencies. These devices have also collected data on innocent people who may be in the area of the suspect that law enforcement targets.

I went through hundreds of pages of the Bureau’s inactive criminal investigative files where the Kingfish/Stingray has been used. I leave after reviewing the files a feeling the Bureau makes it an utmost priority to leave as little as one can any mention of these devices.

Even though the Bureau continues in its realm of secrecy on the spy cell devices, they responded to a request I made a couple of weeks ago.

The data request was based on the following facts. The Bureau uses the Stingray/Kingfish for their investigative purposes. Per the BCA inactive criminal investigations I reviewed the devices were only used a handful of times. On the other hand, the Bureau borrows/arranges for its use to other law enforcement agencies. The devices are used “roughly” 100 times a year per their spokesperson. (April 23, 2014—–“Senate passes phone surveillance bill” Politics in Minnesota)

I asked for documentation in the borrowing/arranging behavior in the use of the Bureau’s Stingray/Kingfish by other Minnesota law enforcement agencies. The use of these devices by other agencies in the “surveillance” of Minnesotans in my estimation is several hundred times since 2008. What I got in response from the Bureau last week was this:

“Mr. Neumeister,

I am writing to follow-upon this request.

The information you reference is an estimation based on the current number of times we believe we have used this equipment and not a firm or exact number. We have no documentation regarding the times we have utilized our cellular exploitation equipment for an outside agency.

Thus, we have no further data responsive to your request at this time.

Based on the increased level of interest in this technology we are in currently assessing how we document the use of this technology in future cases.”