According to procurement records obtained by Motherboard, several US military and law enforcement agencies have obtained “Crossbow” IMSI-catchers, devices that mimic cellphone towers in order to spy on users’ information and messages.
Procurement records and emails obtained by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests show that international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI)-catcher devices called “Crossbows” have been bought by the US Army, US Navy, US Special Operations Command and the US Marshals federal police service, Motherboard reported Monday.
However, the ACLU has long criticized the use of IMSI-catchers like Stingrays, which can indiscriminately scoop up the personal information of innocent people whose phones try to connect to them, and even interfere with 911 calls.
According to Motherboard, the Crossbow specifically targets 4G networks.
However, Wade noted that the Marshals “use various investigative techniques to pursue and arrest violent felony fugitives based on pre-established probable cause in arrest warrants issued for crimes such as murder, sex offenders, robbery, drug offenses, kidnapping, escape and other criminal activities which negatively impact public safety.”
“These techniques are carried out consistent with federal law, and are subject to court approval. Any investigative techniques which the Marshals Service uses are deployed only in furtherance of ordinary law enforcement operations, such as the apprehension of wanted individuals, and not to conduct domestic surveillance, intelligence-gathering, or any type of bulk data collection,” he noted.
Other nations make use of IMSI-catchers, too. In one incident last year, Israeli intelligence was accused of using a Stingray to spy on the cellphone communications of White House officials as well as other DC politicians. Tel Aviv denied the report, but the FBI gave no comment.