Local Police in Canada Used ‘Stingray’ Surveillance Device Without a Warrant

Jordan Pearson, writing for Motherboard: For years, Canadian police have successfully kept their use of controversial and indiscriminate surveillance devices called IMSI catchers a secret. Today, for the first time, and thanks to a year-long effort by a coalition of civil rights organizations and Vancouver-based Pivot Legal Society, we know that at least one local police force in Canada has used an IMSI catcher, also referred to as a “Stingray”: the Vancouver PD. According to the BC Civil Liberties Association, which posted a blog announcing the news on Monday, the Vancouver police used an IMSI catcher once, nearly a decade ago, and without a warrant. “We sent a letter asking the Vancouver police if they’d ever used one of the RCMP’s IMSI catchers, and if they would again,” said Micheal Vonn, policy director for the BCCLA. “The answer to both questions was yes.” The police force claimed that the surveillance device was used under “exigent circumstances,” Vonn said, meaning that there was an imminent threat that couldn’t wait for a warrant to be dealt with. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the Vancouver police maintained in May of this year that they possess no records relating to their use of IMSI catchers.


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