Tucson Fights Release Of Cellphone Tracking Details

By Dennis Lambert
Published: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 7:47am
Updated: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 7:49am

The city of Tucson is citing national security as the reason it doesn’t want to provide details of how it tracks cellphone users.

The city is fighting a public records request for information on a device called a StingRay. StingRay acts like a cellphone tower meaning any cell phones nearby check in with it. That helps police zero in on the one cellphone they want and track its location.

The city has turned over some documents but claims the release of what’s called a quick reference sheet would compromise sensitive law enforcement techniques, making the technology available to criminals.

Dan Pachoda of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the freelance writer who is seeking the documents, said he’s not going to drop the request just because the city is citing national security.

“The government has often attempted to deny what should be publicly available information using this blanket term of security or interference with some operation. And many courts have found that to be an improper attempt to keep the information that should be going to the public from so doing," Pachoda said.

Pachoda does acknowledge some government agencies have been more successful playing the national security card. The judge is not expected to decide the issue for at least a month.

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