New Hampshire House Passes Bill to Prohibit Warrantless Stingray Spying

CONCORD, N.H. (Mar. 8, 2017) – Today, the New Hampshire House passed a bill that would ban the use of “stingrays” to track the location of phones and sweep up electronic communications without a warrant in most situations. The proposed law would not only protect privacy in New Hampshire, but would also hinder one aspect of the federal surveillance state.

A bipartisan coalition of representatives introduced House Bill 474 (HB474) on Jan. 5. The legislation would help block the use of cell site simulators, known as “stingrays.” These devices essentially spoof cell phone towers, tricking any device within range into connecting to the stingray instead of the tower, allowing law enforcement to sweep up communications content, as well as locate and track the person in possession of a specific phone or other electronic device.

HB474 prohibits warrantless use of stingrays both for location tracking and gathering data or information from a phone. The law would allow warrantless use of a stingray if acting under a judicially-recognized exception to the warrant requirement.

The bill also includes provisions requiring police to limit collection of data or metadata to the person named in the warrant and to immediately permanently delete any information gathered on anyone not so named. Police would also have to delete any data or meta-data relating to the person named in the court order within 30 days if there is no longer reason to believe the information is evidence of a crime.

The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee passed HB474 as amended by a 16-0 vote. Today it passed the full House by a unanimous voice vote.
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