Cell site simulator acquisition and use (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)

Phil Mocek filed this request with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office of Snohomish County, WA.
Tracking # 14-04822
Est. Completion None
Status
No Responsive Documents

Communications

From: Phil Mocek

To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to RCW Ch. 42.56 (Public Records Act), I hereby request the following records:

## Background ##

Cell site simulators, also known as IMSI catchers, IMEI catchers, GSM interceptors, covert cellular tracking equipment, and digital analyzers, impersonate a wireless service provider's (i.e., mobile phone company's or cellular phone company's) cell tower, prompting mobile phones and other wireless devices to communicate with the simulators instead of with the real cell towers. These devices are often called "Stingrays," the name of one such device produced by Harris Corporation, along with their AmberJack, BlackFin, KingFish, Gossamer, LoggerHead, and TriggerFish devices.

Cell site simulators are commonly used in several ways: to collect unique numeric identifiers associated with each mobile phone in a given geographic area, to determine the precise location of a mobile phone when numbers associated with it are known but only a rough idea of its location is known, or to intercept phone calls and SMS messages.

Each of these uses raises privacy concerns, the most obvious of which is presented by the interception of voice and SMS messages. Collecting unique identifiers of all phones in a particular area inevitably collects location data on many innocent people who are suspected of no crime. Determination of the precise location of a specific phone can reveal that the phone, and thus the person who operates it, is in a constitutionally-protected place, such as a home, that has traditionally been immune from search without judicial approval via search warrant. The locations of people's mobile phones reveal a variety of personal information, such as: with whom they associate, where they assemble, where they spend their days, where they spend their nights, when they are home alone, where they protest, where they worship, and health care providers they visit.

It has been widely reported in recent months that law enforcement agencies use these devices while hiding their use from the public and from the courts.

Despite widespread public interest in the use and misuse of cell site simulators, the public lack information about your agency's use of these devices or about your agency's policy for such use. Information is needed so the public can determine whether use of cell site simulators by your agency complies with the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and with Washington law.

## Request ##

Pursuant to Chapter 42.56 RCW, the Public Records Act, I request:

1. Records regarding your agency's acquisition of cell site simulators, including but not limited to invoices, purchase orders, contracts, loan agreements, evaluation agreements, solicitation letters, correspondence with companies and public agencies that provide the devices, and similar documents.

2. Records regarding any offer, proposal, arrangement, agreement, or memorandum of understanding with Washington State Patrol ("WSP"), Naval Criminal Investigative Service ("NCICS"), Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), U.S. Marshals Service, FBI's Data Intercept Technology Unit ("DITU"), King County Regional Intelligence Group ("KCRIG"), Pierce County Regional Intelligence Group ("PCRIG"), South Sound Regional Intelligence Group ("SSRIG"), or any corporation, to borrow, permanently acquire from, or use any cell site simulator owned or possessed by the WSP, NCICS, FBI, U.S. Marshals, DITU, KCRIG, PCRIG, SSRIG, or corporation

3. All nondisclosure agreements with Harris Corporation, Digital Receiver Technology (DRT, formerly Utica Systems, now a subsidiary of Boeing Corporation), Septier Communication Limited, Proximus LLC, any other corporation, and any state or federal agencies, regarding your agency's actual or potential possession or use of cell site simulators

4. Records regarding policies and guidelines governing use of cell site simulators, including but not limited to 1) when, where, how, and against whom they devices may be used, 2) logging, retention, purging, use, and auditing data stored in or communicated from the devices, 3) under what circumstances administrative warrant, judicial warrant, or other legal process must, should, or should not be obtained prior to, during, or following direct or indirect use of the devices, 4) under what circumstances the existence or use of the devices must, should, or should not be revealed to judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, criminal defendants, or the general public., and 5) parallel construction techniques for use in avoidance of disclosure of the initial method of discovery of information gained initially by use of cell site simulators

5. Training materials for use of cell site simulators

6. Records regarding any communications or agreements with wireless service providers (i.e., mobile phone carriers such as AT&T, CenturyLink, CREDO Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint, Ting, T-Mobile, Verizon, Virgin Mobile, etc.) concerning use of cell site simulators

7. Records regarding any communications, licenses, waivers, or agreements, with federal or state communications regulatory agencies (e.g., Federal Communications Commission, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, Idaho Public Utilities Commission, Oregon Public Utility Commission, etc.) concerning use of cell site simulators

8. Records reflecting the number of investigations in which cell site simulators were used, the number of those investigations that resulted in prosecutions, and the number of those investigations that resulted in convictions

9. Records reflecting a list of all criminal cases, with docket numbers if available, in which law enforcement officers or other staff used or arranged for the use of one or more cell site simulators as part of the underlying investigations

10. All applications submitted to state or federal courts for warrants, orders, or other other authorization for use of cell site simulators in criminal investigations, as well as any warrants, orders, authorizations, denials of warrants, denials of orders, denials of authorization, and returns of warrants associated with those applications

11. Records regarding the use of cell site simulators in closed investigations

12. Date and docket number of any responsive records that are sealed

13. All associated metadata

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 5 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Phil Mocek

From: SSH-SCSO Public Disclosure Unit

Please see above attachment regarding your public records request.

Thank you.

Mikelle Gaines
Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office
Public Disclosure Unit
425 388 3769

From: Phil Mocek

Dear Mr. Gaines:

Thank you for your prompt response. Could you please provide the administrative tracking file for my request? I'm curious about the search method, inquiries with staff deemed likely to be aware of such records if they existed, etc.

Cordially,
Phil Mocek

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Aug. 27, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-04822.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Aug. 27, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-04822.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Aug. 27, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-04822.

Thank you for your help.

From: SSH-SCSO Public Disclosure Unit

Please see attached letter regarding the status of your request.

K. Oliver
Snohomish County Sheriff's Office
Public Disclosure Unit Supervisor
425-388-3769

From: Phil Mocek

Dear Mr. or Ms. Oliver:

Thank you for the followup letter on October 28 with information supplementary to Mr. Gaines' August 28 notification that no records responsive to my request were found.

On September 3, I asked for your administrative tracking file for this request. Nobody responded. Can you please provide that? I hope to learn about about the search method used, inquiries with staff deemed likely to be aware of such records if they existed, etc.

Cordially,
Phil Mocek

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Aug. 27, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-04822.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Aug. 27, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-04822.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Aug. 27, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-04822.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Aug. 27, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-04822.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Aug. 27, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-04822.

Thank you for your help.

From: SSH-SCSO Public Disclosure Unit

Good afternoon.

This email is in regards to your question regarding how we conducted the search for your request:

Once the staff in the Sheriff’s Public Disclosure Unit received your request, they asked our Public Information Officer (PIO) and a representative of the department from the Personnel Development Division(PDD) regarding utilizing Cell Site Simulators. From their responses and knowledge, we were informed that the Sheriff’s Office does not utilize cell site simulators. We informed you of this response, however we continued to search farther regarding the use of these simulators. Upon further research we sent you the following information, “After a thorough search and review, the Snohomish County Regional Drug Task Force participated in 6 investigations where a cell site simulator was used. However, these devices are not owned or used by Snohomish County independent of our work with other jurisdictions. Snohomish County has no additional information on these cases including whether or not they were charged or led to a conviction.”

I hope this answers your question.

Thank you.

K. Oliver
Snohomish County Sheriff's Office
Public Disclosure Unit Supervisor
425-388-3769

From: Phil Mocek

Dear Mr. or Ms. Oliver:

I received your e-mail of January 26. In it, you explained a bit about your search methods and expressed hope that your followup "answers [my] questions." The only question I asked was if you could provide me with the administrative tracking file for my request of August 27. Other agencies from whom I request public records maintain files with information such as: Communication with requester, communications with other staff about the request, and dates at which various portions of processing a request were accomplished. Do you maintain such documentation? I expected to receive e-mails to and from staff with whom you consulted, processing notes, and more.

Cordially,
Phil Mocek

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