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Judge orders city to publish cell phone tracking system details

From an article in The Arizona City Independent:  “A judge has ordered the city of Tucson to provide a list of documents it refuses to make public on its possession and use of a controversial device that allows police to track cell phone users.

In a brief order, Pima County Superior Court Judge Douglas Metcalf essentially rejected a request by the city that he examine the questioned documents himself behind closed doors.

Instead, Metcalf told attorneys for the city and its police department to produce not just a full list of the documents it is withholding from Beau Hodai but their justification for refusing to make them public. That list has to be produced by Sept. 15.

Attorney Dan Pochoda of the American Civil Liberties Union, representing Hodai, said Metcalf’s order essentially gives his organization what it wants. He said once the city provides that list and the reasons for its claims of confidentiality, then the ACLU can make its case that the information is public and needs to be disclosed.

Metcalf said he will set a hearing sometime after the end of October.  While this legal fight is playing out over Tucson’s use of the device, its outcome ultimately could have statewide implications: At least two other police agencies in Arizona are reported to have bought the devices.

Known as “StingRay,’’ the device fools cell phones into thinking it is an actual cell phone tower. And that causes the phone to report back, allowing police to track its location.

Royce Christyn
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