At the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, Attorney Hanni Fakhoury has been tracking the use of Harris Corp.'s Stingray - a law enforcement tool that mimics a cell phone tower, and can track or intercept signals.
"Local law enforcement agencies in California, Indiana, Florida, and Arizona have used them. This is not a rare occurrence to see that they have made their way into upstate New York." , adding that since 2007, the use of the equipment has mushroomed.
|How Does it Work?
What Can it Do?
Web Extra:Hear more with Attorney Hanni Fakhoury, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation
a privacy watchdog group in Washington DC.
On The WBEN Liveline:
Brian Boetig, Special Agent in Charge of the Buffalo FBI
Fahkoury says that while the devices can be used only for cell phone location and tracking, it could also scoop up signals and texts, and might also identify the numbers you have been in touch with.
(Hear Fakhoury explain how it works and how it is used in the audio above left.)
For Just $50, You can be a Cell Phone Spy TooWhen people hear that the Erie County Sheriff's Department has equipment to spy on people's cell phones, some are appalled, others think it's best for safety, and a few want to know how to get that equipment for themselves.
Turns out it's not that hard to do.
"Once it's been installed, you go online, and then the information from that smartphone is sent to that online account for your viewing," said Craig Thompson of Retina-X Studios, who make the Mobile Spy software. "It can view anything from GPS, text messages, any photos taken with the camera on the phone, websites visited on the internet, and various other things."
The software is installed on a phone without leaving a trace, and at a cost of just $50, is gaining popularity with parents who want to know what they're children are doing on their smartphones.
"(Popularity) has risen greatly, especially with parents who are concerned with what their children are doing on the smartphones because they're openly able to communicate in various ways with strangers," Thompson said. "As long as there are underage children who are getting these smartphones, I think it's only going to gain more popularity because parents are concerned, and this is the way to give them a one-up on what's going on."
As for other uses, Thompson says it's illegal to spy on a phone that isn't yours without the person knowing.To buy the Mobile Spy software you must agree that you are installing it either on the phone of your underage child or your employee's company phone.
So while it is certainly possible to install it on the phone of a suspicious spouse, it's not exactly legal to do so.