Speed Reads

surveillance state

Government spying might be making your cell phone service crappy

In recent years, federal agencies and local police alike have availed themselves of technology known as "stingrays," cell phone surveillance devices that essentially fool your phone into thinking it's a cell tower. As the ACLU notes, stingrays "also gather information about the phones of countless bystanders who happen to be nearby," which means police could be keeping tabs on your location and other info, sans warrant.

Now, a newly released document indicates that the local reach of the devices may be interfering with cell service, too. Because of how the stingray functions, "its use has the potential to intermittently disrupt cellular service to a small fraction of Sprint’s wireless customers within its immediate vicinity," wrote FBI Special Agent Michael A. Scimeca.

"If an emergency or important/urgent call (to a doctor, a loved one, etc.) is blocked or dropped by this technology," says the ACLU's Nate Wessler, "that’s a serious problem."