Cory Bennett reports:
A judge Friday unsealed a trove of court documents that could shed light on a secret cellphone tracking program used by police nationwide.
The judge in Charlotte, N.C., acted after a petition from the Charlotte Observer to make the documents public.
Included are 529 requests from local Charlotte-Mecklenburg police asking judges to approve the use of a technology known as StingRay, which allows cellphone surveillance.
Read more on The Hill.
Update: From the original reporting by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Observer:
The files contain no records showing CMPD received court permission to use a StingRay from when it first purchased the device in 2006 until 2010. That means there is no way to readily determine how often police used the device, if they were justified or if they had judicial oversight during that time span.
Senior Deputy City Attorney Judith Emken said during that period, police applied for court orders giving them permission to deploy the device, generically called a cell-site simulator.
Court officials, however, did not file the records in the clerk’s office. Instead, police detectives kept copies in investigative files, which are not open to public inspection.
Applications for cellphone surveillance filed by CMPD give the suspect’s name, a brief description of the case and boilerplate language connected to phone data.
There is no mention of a StingRay or any indication of how the device would be used.
Read more on The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Observer.