A controversial cell phone surveillance system, known as the StingRay, has prompted lawsuits against 40 federal and local government agencies. The StingRay allows law enforcement agencies to track criminals by simulating a cell phone tower. It is capable of identifying phone users and capturing communications within its range. Certain groups have raised privacy concerns for bystanders who are not part of a criminal investigation.
Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) requested documents under the California Public Records Act from the Anaheim Police Department and the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department describing their StingRay use. The ACLU says it wants to find out who is using the devices, what policies govern the uses, and what types of crimes it is being used to pursue. When the agencies refused to disclose certain documents, the ACLU brought suit. Similar lawsuits have been filed across the country as certain groups seek more information about the StingRay and its role in government agencies.