Spies more free to use cellphone surveillance tech without warrant, under court ruling

A federal court judge has ruled that Canada’s domestic spy agency can continue to use contentious cellphone surveillance devices without a warrant, in some cases.

For several years, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has used a device it calls a Cell Site Simulator (CSS) to collect information about cellphones and other cellular-capable devices — such as some laptops or tablets — during its national security investigations.

The devices are perhaps better known as IMSI Catchers or Stingrays, and pretend to be legitimate cellphone towers in order to collect information. Privacy advocates have long criticized the technology for how it indiscriminately gathers data, not merely on the subject of an investigation, but on all of the cellular devices in its operating radius.