Revealing exemptions in Iowa’s withholding of StingRay docs

After paying a $150 processing fee, Iowa DPS releases privacy policy and extensive list of exemptions, including “trade secrets”

Written by Curtis Waltman
Edited by JPat Brown

Iowa is not a state that has been reported as having StingRay surveillance devices, which is why we were surprised when the Department of Public Safety responded to our Cell Site Simulator census with a $147.90 invoice for records processing fees.

If those records confirmed their use, Iowa would be the 24th state to be found using these devices.

After payment, and some waiting, we finally received Iowa’s response. Instead of a fresh batch of records to pore over, what we got was the “Intelligence Policy on Privacy, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties” …

as well as another example of expansive exemptions used to withhold information about IMSI catchers.

Along with the typical security procedures and intelligence reports exemptions, there were citations of Iowa’s trade secrets exemption, the denial of funds statute, and Iowa Code 550.2(4), which is a clause allowing for the owner of a trade secret to recover damages from the state for any wrongful misappropriations.

This likely has to do with the NDA that the FBI and the Harris Corporation have infamously made police departments sign when they are purchasing a cell site simulator. Seeing as how Iowa has not disclosed their use of the technology yet, they could be attempting to play it safe with Harris and the FBI.

While the policy does not mention anything specifically about cell site simulators, it does mention a log kept of all “information accessed and disseminated,” and references an “audit trail.” An Intelligence Fusion Center is discussed at some length, indicating that the Iowa DPS works closely with federal agencies.

A call for comment to the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s Public Information Officer Alex Murphy has so far gone unanswered. We will update you if we manage to secure more hard information about what device the Iowa DPS has been using.

The release is embedded below:


Image via Iowa DCI Facebook