'The culprit behind a massive spying scandal in the U.S. capital has been exposed. A slew of surveillance devices found around the District of Columbia over the years was the work of Israeli spies. But it’s unlikely that the U.S. will take any action.
Three former U.S. officials have informed Politico that the devices — International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) catchers, or “Stingrays” — that were discovered near the White House, Senate and other sensitive locations belonged to the Israeli government.
Typically used by police, Stingrays, a dragnet as opposed to a targeted surveillance device, work like miniature cell phone towers. When one is set up, it sucks in all cell phone communications within a specific radius, intercepting them before they make it to the tower to be transmitted to the intended recipient. The metadata sent — including texts and other private information — by everyone within the radius is then viewable by whoever is controlling the Stingray.
Freddie Martinez, executive director of the Lucy Parsons Labs, an organization that has fought successfully for government disclosure on the use of Stingrays, told MintPress News:
These devices are an extremely low cost way to discover who a person or group of people are and track their movements in real time. As the price of technology drops, the risk of intelligence and corporate espionage only increases. In an extreme example, you [could use a Stingray] to find out everyone who routinely goes to an embassy and try to learn about their patterns of life… Generally, they are used to track the real-time location of people or hunt down a person based on an identifier like their phone numbers.
They [Stingrays] can function because of technical exploits in cellphone networks and it is up to international bodies to “fix” the problem. Given the billions of phones already in the world and how complex their capabilities’ range — from older models of 10 years ago to newer 5G devices — there doesn’t seem to be any appetite to take on such a huge technical problem.”
Read more: Trump Brushes Israeli Dragnet Surveillance of D.C. Under the Rug