Sheriff zips up over cellphone spying device’s use
Friday, May 23, 2014
BUFFALO — The Erie County sheriff says he’s done making public comments about a cellphone surveillance device used by his police agency to gather information on persons of interest.
Sheriff Tim Howard told WGRZ-TVThursday that he won’t publicly discuss the matter any longer because doing so could adversely impact investigations.
Erie Co. Sheriff Spent $350,000+ To Spy On Cell Phones
Michael Wooten, WGRZ7:34 p.m. EDT May 5, 2014
BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Erie County Sheriff’s Office spent more than $350,000 on equipment to spy on citizens’ cell phones, according to documents obtained by 2 On Your Side.
The devices mimic a cell phone tower that convinces the phone to share private information, including exact locations as well as numbers of those calling or texting and receiving calls or texts.
In most cases, the devices receive information from all phones within a one-mile radius, meaning potentially thousands of innocent people could have their data shared without ever knowing.
The Sheriff’s Office repeatedly refused to acknowledge if it owned the spying devices or make any comment at all, saying that could jeopardize investigations or “reveal criminal investigative techniques.”
The agency, headed up by Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard, denied our Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request. So 2 On Your Side filed a request with the Erie County Department of Purchasing. After an initial denial and appeal, the county finally handed over the information, saying it had consulted with the county attorney, the manufacturer Harris Corporation and the U.S. Department of Justice.
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