Leon County Circuit Judge James Hankinson recently granted the ACLU’s request for the release of a hearing transcript regarding the use of Stingray devices by law enforcement. Stingray devices act as fake cell towers and are used by the government in order to track the location and identifying information of individuals. Some law enforcement agencies have been using these devices without first obtaining a warrant. Judge Hankinson closed the hearing per the government’s request of secrecy during the testimony offered by a Tallahassee detective surrounding the use of a Stingray. However, this month the ACLU, after its request, reported that Judge Hankinson ordered the hearing transcript released in what is described as victory for transparency. The complete article can be read here (the article includes links to the hearing transcript and an emergency motion filed in Sarasota for the release of information related to the use of a stingray device in that county).
Last year local 10 News, during its investigation of the use of stingray devices, reported that Pinellas Sheriff’s Office refused to turn over information about how it was spending its budget. According to Local 10 News, “the Pinellas Co. Sheriff’s Office refused toturn over documents that would indicate whether it had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars for a Stingray of its own.” Local 10 News reported that a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s office indicated that, “the act of revealing which corporations received the agency’s tax dollars could compromise investigations.”