A New York judge who ruled the police shouldn’t be second-guessed when using Stingrays “couldn’t be more wrong,” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
“It is bad law and bad policy to second-guess the predictive judgments made by the government’s intelligence agencies,” Judge Shlomo Hager said in a case involving the New York Police Department (NYPD) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
Noting that a “core part” of its “mission is questioning the decisions of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies over digital surveillance,” EFF Senior Investigative Researcher Dave Maass wrote in a blog, the EFF is “outraged” about Hager’s ruling in a public records case that “upheld the New York Police Department’s decision to withhold records about its purchases of cell-site simulator equipment (colloquially known as Stingrays), including the names of surveillance products and how much they cost taxpayers.”
The judge wrote the court would defer to the expertise of a detective and inspector in the case, who contended “that disclosure of the names of the StingRay devices, as well as the prices, would pose a substantial threat and would reveal the non-routine information to bad actors that would use it to evade detection.”
The EFF disagreed with the ruling, arguing that “holding police accountable and shining light on the criminal justice system is absolutely good law, good policy, and good for community relations,” the blog said. “Questioning authority is one of the most important ways to defend democracy.”