Earlier today, the Illinois House passed and sent to Governor Rauner Senate Bill 2343, a measure that increases transparency and regulation of cell site simulators, often known by the brand name Stingrays, when they are used by law enforcement in Illinois. The vote was 115 to 0. The measure previously passed the Illinois Senate on a unanimous vote.

Left unregulated, the technology can be a powerful tool for mass surveillance as it can sweep up large amounts of data from cell phones in a particular area. Senate Bill 2343 would require law enforcement to get a court order to use a Stingray, adopt specific procedures to assure that data of non-targets is not captured and retained and prohibit the technology to block phone calls, drain a phone battery or intercept the content of phone calls, web browsing and text messages by police.

The following can be attributed to Khadine Bennett, Associate Legislative Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois:

The House sent a strong bi-partisan signal today that leaders in Illinois are committed to protecting the privacy of everyone who uses a cell phone or smartphone. Given the prevalence of these devices and our reliance on the technology daily in today’s society, cell site simulator technology is too powerful to remain unregulated. The federal government has adopted modest guidelines similar to those in SB2343. If the restrictions are good enough for the FBI, they should be workable for local law enforcement in Illinois.

We thank Representative Ann Williams for her leadership on this issue and urge Governor Rauner to sign this measure into law as quickly as possible.