Oakland’s Cell Tower Simulator (Stingray) Policy is the Gold Standard.


Brian Hofer writes to the Oakland City Council, describing the Cell Phone Tower Simulator (aka Stingray) Use Policy the Oakland Privacy Advisory Committee and the Oakland Police arrived at.  The policy was adopted by the Oakland City Council at their February 7th, 2017, meeting.


There is no policy regarding cell site simulators in existence even remotely close to Oakland’s, as to the narrowness of allowable use, oversight, and transparent reporting. Although I was proud of what we accomplished with Alameda County in breaking new ground, the Oakland policy far exceeds all standards at the federal, state, or local level:

   1. Content interception is prohibited.
   2. A warrant for each use. The warrant application must inform the Court of the technology being used, and how it operates. This was previously not done, leading to judicial authorization of something unknown to them.
   3. A deployment log, containing the name of each user, the reason for each use, and the results of each use, including accuracy of information.
   4. An annual report that includes:
      a. The deployment log
      b. The number of times the equipment was requested and used.
      c. The number of times outside agencies received info from OPD and vice versa.
      d. Information regarding any policy violations.
      e. Total costs.
      f. Results of internal audits, and any corrective action taken.
      g. The number of times the equipment was used to make or attempt an arrest; locate an at-risk person; aid in search and rescue efforts. These are the narrow, allowable uses.
      h. The type of crime.
      i. The effective in assisting in investigations.
      j. Location of use

Read Brian’s full letter to the City Council here.


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