New York City's police have made extensive use of covert devices to track cell phones without obtaining warrants since 2008, a civil liberties group said on Thursday, revealing how frequently law enforcement in the largest U.S. city has employed the technology.
The New York Civil Liberties Union released files that showed the New York Police Department used 'cell site simulators' to track nearby cell phones more than a 1,000 times over the past eight years.
The American Civil Liberties Union has identified 60 local, state and federal agencies that have adopted the devices in recent years, but the group has said there are likely far more. The extent of the devices has largely been shrouded in secrecy, as departments and private manufacturers such as Harris Corp have refused to disclose information about their use.
The documents released on Thursday were obtained by the NYCLU through a Freedom of Information Law request.
The NYPD does not have a written policy on using the surveillance devices and does not obtain warrants when doing so, according to the NYCLU.