Police are reportedly using fake mobile phone masts, in order to track mobile phone users and criminals.
The ‘Stingray’ mobile masts trick phones into revealing their locations, and while this is obviously a useful tool when it comes to criminals, it has also raised privacy concerns.
The masts also collect the data from other mobiles in the area, which belong to people who are not on the wrong side of the law.
Both Sky and USA Today investigations found that fake masts were in both London and America, and were even used to track minor crimes.
USA Today’s investigation even revealed that police had used the findings in court, often without telling the defence lawyers of the accused.
The masts use specialist hardware made by German company GMSK Cryptophone, and according to Sky News, there could be as many as 20 of these devices in London.
Deputy director of Privacy International, Eric King, spoke to Sky News and claimed:
With IMSI catchers, it’s very difficult for them to be used in a targeted manner.Advertisement
In an urban space, thousands of people’s mobile phones would be swept up in that dragnet. What they do with that data, we don’t know.
We know police have been using them for years, but this is the first time that it’s been shown that they’re being deployed in the UK.