Indiana State Police cited a state law defining agricultural terrorism to deny a privacy advocate's request for information about the use of stingray surveillance equipment.
Mike Katz-Lacabe, a privacy activist and government advocate, asked for letters and emails sent between the police department, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Harris Corporation, a technology company that makes surveillance equipment. Katz-Lacabe specified in the request that he wanted copies of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) signed by the FBI and police department notifying Harris Corporation that the police have permission to use the stingrays.
In August, though, the state police denied the request in a written response to Katz-Lacabe that said the specific data requested would disclose detailed information related to the “functioning and capabilities of equipment and programs” that the department uses to defend against acts of terrorism or “agricultural terrorism.”
“I don't know how the very fact that they have this device could affect an investigation into agricultural terrorism,” Katz-Lacabe, told SCMagazine.com.
He went on to say that he will file a complaint with the state's Public Access Counselor if the department's response doesn't change.
Dave Maass, investigative researcher with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), told SCMagazine.com that it's not uncommon for police departments to try to withhold this type of information.
“I think law enforcement should give up on the secrecy because information will get out there eventually,” Maass said. “We need accountability and with all the secrecy there is no way that accountability can happen.”