Rights Lab: Can the Government Spy on My Phone?

(Screengrab: Rights Lab)Who are Stingrays used on – and is it legal? (Screengrab: Rights Lab)

Originally developed to drag information from the phones of individuals abroad targeted in the United States’ wide-ranging war on terror, IMSI-catchers, or cell phone tracking devices, have come home. The most common type is the Stingray, often sold to local police departments by the Harris Corporation.

But who are they used on – and is it legal?

The first episode of Rights Lab, a Scrappers Film Group and Truthout original series, takes you into the streets of Chicago with Frances and Patches, two activists looking to find out if a Black Lives Matter protest they are attending is being surveilled by a Stingray. On their journey they use an app called AIMSICD to attempt to track the Stingray, deconstruct privacy and surveillance history with civil liberties lawyer Jerry Boyle, and talk to Freddy Martinez, the FOIA activist who sued the Chicago Police Department.

Rights Lab uses real-life case studies, featuring local activists and offering clear and compelling explanations of ongoing legal debates to explore Stingray surveillance, when and how it is legal to film a police officer, the burgeoning debate behind consumer drone flight, what you can and can’t do on social media and much more.