Cell site simulator acquisition and use (US Marshals Service)

Phil Mocek filed this request with the Department of Justice, United States Marshals of the United States of America.
Tracking # 2015USMS26651
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Phil Mocek

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information 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 state laws.

## Request ##

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 any other entity to borrow, permanently acquire from, lend, permanently transfer to, or use any cell site simulator owned or possessed by your agency or any other entity

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, Pen-Link Ltd., 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, state public utilities or communications commissions, 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 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Phil Mocek

From: Robinson, Nancy (USMS)

[USMS seal blue294 1in]

U.S. Department of Justice
United States Marshals Service

Office of General Counsel

2604 Jefferson Davis Hwy.
Alexandria, VA 22301

September 2, 2014

Phil Mocek
MuckRock News
Dept. MR 13179
PO Box 55819
Boston, MA 02205-5819

RE: Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Request No. 2014USMS26651

Dear Requester:

The United States Marshals Service is in receipt of your Freedom of Information/Privacy Act request for records maintained by this Bureau. We have commenced a search for documents responsive to your request and will contact you when our processing is complete.

Although we are unable to determine at this time the amount of fees to be charged to you, if any, the filing of your request constitutes your agreement to pay all applicable fees that may be charged under 28 C.F.R. § 16.11 or § 16.49, up to $25.00. You will be notified as soon as practicable if the estimated or actual fee for satisfying your request exceeds $25.00.

If you should have any questions, please contact us at (202) 307-9054.

Sincerely,

William E. Bordley
Associate General Counsel/FOIPA Officer
Office of General Counsel

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. 28, 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 #2014USMS26651.

Thank you for your help.

From: Robinson, Nancy (USMS)

You need to submit a new request to USMS.FOIA@usdoj.gov<mailto:USMS.FOIA@usdoj.gov>. The number you are using has been closed.

From: MuckRock

Hello Ms. Robinson,

Can you please clarify which request has been closed? This request regarding cell site simulator acquisition was submitted on August 28. On September 2, we received a response re: 2014USMS26651 stating that the a search for responsive documents had commenced. We have not received any communications since then save for your most recent one stating that this request number has been closed.

Thank you very much 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. 28, 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 #2014USMS26651.

Thank you for your help.

From: Robinson, Nancy (USMS)

We are working on it.

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. 28, 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 #2014USMS26651.

Thank you for your help.

From: Robinson, Nancy (USMS)

We are working on it.

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. 28, 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 #2014USMS26651.

Thank you for your help.

From: Robinson, Nancy (USMS)

We are working on it.

From: Department of Justice, United States Marshals

A cover letter granting the request and outlining any exempted materials, if any.

From: Department of Justice, United States Marshals

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

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