‘Dragnet Surveillance Program”: The U.S. Is Putting Fake Cell Towers In Planes To Spy On People


Report: The U.S. is putting fake cell towers in planes to spy on people (PC World, Nov 13, 2014):

The U.S. Department of Justice is putting devices that emulate cellphone towers in Cessna aircraft and flying them around the country to track the locations of cell phones, a practice that targets criminal suspects but may also affect thousands of U.S. citizens, according to a news report Thursday.The program is run by the Department of Justice’s U.S. Marshals Service and has been in operation since at least 2007, according to the report in the Wall Street Journal, which cited two unnamed sources. The aircraft are flown out of at least five metropolitan-area airports and can cover most of the U.S. population, it said.

Cell phones are programmed to connect to whichever nearby cell tower has the strongest signal. The fake cell towers trick phones into thinking they have the strongest signal, then read the devices’ unique registration numbers when they connect, the Journal report says.

The goal is to locate cell phones linked to people under investigation for crimes like selling drugs, but in the process the program collects data about people not suspected of any crime, the report says. The fake cell towers determine which phones belong to criminal suspects and “let go” of those that aren’t.

The Journal quoted a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union who called it an inexcusable “dragnet surveillance program.”

A DOJ official wouldn’t confirm or deny the program but said Justice Department agencies “comply with federal law, including by seeking court approval,” the Journal said.

A side effect is that the towers can sometimes cause cell phone calls to be dropped. “Authorities have tried to minimize the potential for harm, including modifying the software to ensure the fake tower doesnt interrupt anyone calling 911 for emergency help,” one source told the Journal.

There have been several reports in the last few months about phony cell phone towers being detected around the U.S. It’s not clear whether the fake cell towers used by the DOJ, dubbed “dirtboxes” by law enforcement officials, are the ones that have been detected.


6 thoughts on “‘Dragnet Surveillance Program”: The U.S. Is Putting Fake Cell Towers In Planes To Spy On People”

  1. Oh well if the doj says it complies with the courts then it must be ok!!!! Which courts are we talking about? The secret courts? Didn’t Hitler or Stalin have secret courts as well? If you have to have secret courts clearly you are up to no good. Otherwise you would be able to be open about it. I don’t want to hear about terrorist bull shit either. That’s the biggest fucking ruse ever. How many non terrorist related people have been swooped up by the nsa, doj and homeland security and their secret courts? This may come as a surprise to our government but I wouldn’t trade one ounce of freedom for any form of security from them!!!! I don’t fear criminals of any kind. I fear my over bearing over reaching out of control government that think they know best.

  2. To James: Even a more terrifying thought, the Spanish Inquisition had secret courts as well. Funded and supported by Ferdinand & Isabella of Spain, their evil warrants chased people to the new world where they had fled them because they were scientists, doctors, and wise men. The Spanish Inquisition was totally responsible for running science and decent living out of the old world. We had learned of indoor plumbing and the like from the Romans, the Inquisition soon had most folks living in mud huts, terrified of bathing. They came to believe their stink from never bathing protected them from disease.
    Centuries later, when Napoleon and Josephine of France were known to bathe daily, people were convinced they would die from it, and were quite surprised to find out the opposite.
    Ignorance is our greatest enemy, and we have a government that intends to use fear to destroy us………the sweeps of crowds of people, averaging 1700-2500, starting with GW Bush, was the beginning. About a third were released, a third jailed and a third vanished. The same continues.
    About 2 years ago, the ATF invaded a home not far from me at 3AM. I was born in San Francisco, and lived most of my life in urban areas. I slept through the whole thing, it woke the whole town. They sent in choppers, creeps in big SUVs armed with machine guns blew this house to kingdom come. A man, wife and ten year old daughter were the occupants…….The neighboring streets for one square mile were put in 24 hour lockdown. Nobody could go to work, school, doctor, nothing. And for what?
    The silence was deafening. One man said he heard they were Mexican, so that made it okay for him. I asked him in what part of his body did he keep his brain……stupid fuck.
    Anyway, all of that for nothing. We drove to see the house. It was destroyed, the garage, the windows were riddled with bullets.
    All of that for a man, woman and child.
    Secret courts are what give these animals the right to do such awful and unfair things. They were never able to charge the people with anything, so it was silence……and more silence.
    The root is in secret courts, and they should be banished.

  3. James, I come from a country which has always prided itself on Justice, the right to a fair trial, presumption of innocence and Trial by Jury.

    All now extinct under the rules laid down by the UK Government. No juries, closed session Kangaroo Courts, and police run setting up of false evidence.

    Welcome to the disunited kingdom.


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