No Warrant No Stingrays! Warrant required to spy on phones

  • Saad Qureshi
  • Apr-01-2016

On Wednesday, the Court of Maryland has released a legal opinion to police, stating that police should not only get a warrant to use Stingray device, but it should explain how exactly the cell-site stimulator works. These devices are referred as Stingrays and they work by spoofing the cell service tower. Once the stingray is placed successfully, it is able to intercept calls and messages. On some occasions, false claims of using informant were made, However in reality stingrays were deployed.

No Warrant No Stingrays! Warrant required to spy on phones

The issue came under light after the case of State of Maryland Vs. Andrews. The case involved a Baltimore man, Kerron Andrews, who was accused of attempting a murder in April 2014. As a part of defense, Andrew’s lawyer were successful in finding out how the police arrested Andrew from his actual location. Lawyers came across a cell simulator named “Hail Storm”, which aided the police.

In the mid of 2015, Maryland Court Judge Kendra Ausby ruled in support of the defense’s appeal to restrain all evidences gathered by using a stingray. Prosecutors then took the case up to Court of Special Appeals, where the original ruling was sustained. This made impossible to carry further prosecution of the case.


Maryland Court of special appeals stated that users have right to stop being tracked by means of their cell phones. Under any circumstance mobile phones should not be used as tracking devices. Police should hold its use of cell-stimulator devices including “hailstorm”, unless it attains proper warrant to use it, and description of its application in the case.


The judge states that government could no longer rely on the pen register application, that has been in practice for a long time. Even more, authorities have been taking permission to use the pen register system, while in reality they deployed cell-simulators in place of pen registers which has lot more capabilities than its predecessor “pen-register”.

Saad Qureshi


Saad Qureshi's Biography :

Saad is a privacy advocate by day and a Dota 2 player by night. He loves to share his knowledge, experience, and insights about internet freedom and online privacy. When he is not busy blogging about the latest trend in the tech world, he is engaged in killing noobs on Dota.