April 18, 2018

Wyden, Gardner, Paul, Markey Press DHS on Foreign Cell Phone Surveillance Devices Used in U.S.

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., today called on the Department of Homeland Security to release unclassified documents with new details about threats posed by foreign government use of cellular surveillance devices in Washington D.C. and other U.S. cities.

“The American people have a legitimate interest in understanding the extent to which U.S. telephone networks are vulnerable to surveillance and are being actively exploited by hostile actors,” the senators wrote, in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security.

By tricking mobile devices and rerouting mobile communications, Stingrays and other cell phone surveillance devices can reveal the location of the cellphone in question, and even eavesdrop on calls or plant malware.

The senators asked DHS to release a PowerPoint presentation that contains additional details about the use of rogue IMSI catchers in the U.S. The presentation is unclassified but marked “for official use only.”

Last year, Wyden wrote to DHS requesting information about the unauthorized use of Stingray devices. In its response, DHS for the first time publicly acknowledged the unauthorized use of these devices in the Washington area, leaving some of the country’s most sensitive communications vulnerable to being intercepted by hackers and foreign intelligence services.

The letter can be found here.