Police in Illinois will have better guidance about the use of cell site simulators — or stingrays — and the responsible collection of cell data because of legislation advanced by Senator Daniel Biss that was signed into law Friday.
The new law will regulate the police use of cell tower simulators for surveillance. These simulators, more commonly known as stingray devices, act as cell phone towers and trick phones in a particular area into thinking they are connecting to a phone tower operated by a service provider.
Police can use the fake tower to determine someone’s location, the serial numbers of phones in the area and more. In addition to collecting data on targeted individuals, police can collect data on dozens or hundreds of other innocent people in the process as well.
“I am pleased to see this measure become law in Illinois,” said Biss, an Evanston Democrat. “It is important that we take steps to enable police to effectively investigate and solve crimes using the latest technology, but it is equally important that we protect innocent people from unnecessary and unwarranted invasions of their privacy.”
Senate Bill 2343, sponsored by Biss, establishes the Citizen Privacy Protection Act to regulate the use of stingray devices by law enforcement so that they don’t become tools of mass surveillance.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the act into law on Friday. It becomes effective Jan. 1, 2017.