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Maryland Attorney General: If You Don't Want To Be Tracked, Turn Off Your Phone

Published: February 8, 2016
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Source: Motherboard

The state attorney general of Maryland is taking an alarmingly aggressive stance on the use of controversial cell phone trackers known as cell site simulators, or StingRays, arguing in court that a suspect volunteered to be tracked simply by leaving his phone on.

In a brief filed earlier this week, Maryland attorney general Brian E. Frosh challenged a Baltimore court's decision in the case of Kerron Andrews, who was targeted by a cell site simulator, the once-secret surveillance device used by police and federal agents to track phones en-masse by impersonating cellphone towers, often without warrants.

Andrews, who faces multiple counts of attempted murder, had asked the court to dismiss the charges, citing Fourth Amendment concerns over the use of the surveillance device.

But the state argued that because cell phones constantly reveal their locations to carriers by pinging nearby cell towers, Andrews “voluntarily shared this information with third parties,” including the police, merely by keeping his phone on.

In other words, if you don't shut off your phone, you're asking to be tracked.

“While cell phones are ubiquitous, they all come with 'off' switches,” the state responded in the brief. “Because Andrews chose to keep his cell phone on, he was voluntarily sharing the location of his cell phone with third parties.”

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