Jun 082015

In a response to a public records request from April 22, 2015, on June 1, the Pennsylvania State Police released a redacted administrative regulation for the use of “Telecommunication Identification Interception Devices” also known as cell site simulators, IMSI catchers or Stingrays. Administrative regulation AR 9-16 references Pennsylvania’s Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance Control Act and specifically refers to interception of electronic communications.

The Pennsylvania State Police FAQ on cell site simulators (CSS) claims that the CSS “cannot intercept the content of voice calls or text messages” nor can it obtain “cellular telephone numbers…of any user of a cellular device.” While the specific technical details and capabilities of the two Harris HailStorm devices owned by the Pennsylvania State Police are not known, the claim that the Harris HailStorm cell site simulators cannot obtain the cellular telephone numbers of cellular devices appears to be incorrect. In fact, the name IMSI catcher refers to the devices’ ability to capture the International Mobile Subscriber Identity, which is the device’s phone number.

For more information about the Pennsylvania State Police cell site simulators, see the excellent work by Dustin Slaughter at The Declaration and the Pennsylvania Right to Know Act request at MuckRock.

Pennsylvania purchase orders for Harris StingRay II to HailStorm Upgrade

Update: 6/26/15 – Text was updated to correct a mistake. It can still be seen in strikeout.