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Feds gather phone data from the sky with aircraft mimicking cell towers

Sources told the WSJ that USMS operated these planes from five major airports in the US and that the program had a flying range “covering most of the US population.” The devices on the planes can capture unique identifying information from “tens of thousands” of cellphones on the ground. Using that information, federal authorities can pinpoint a cellphone user's location from “within three meters or within a specific room in a building,” the WSJ said. ( Plus d'info...

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N441LC 10
The Goverment does what it wants whenever it wants, collect data...invade country after country. This nation of Zombies will accept nothing less.
CosmosKidd 5
I pointed out one of these aircraft to my son, it was operating in the Denver area last year! He didn't believe me. I was a CTT in the US NAVY for 20 years. I am VERY familiar with planes that are supposed to look like one thing that are really something quite different! The P-3 Orion being one good example ;)
BaronG58 3
There is a P-3 that flies out of Love Field here in Dallas. It has zero markings on anything. I can only imagine what it is up too.
sparkie624 5
This is not good... There are no bounds that they won't cross... They need to be held accountable.
Vidur Thukral 1
Anyone have any idea as to what aircraft these are? Its quite an interesting operation.
royalbfh 1
DOJ has a bunch of these airplanes. Brand new CE182's,and CE206's. FLIR pods hanging off the side, big picture windows for "observing" etc... "Jenna and Flint are a couple of callsigns that I have heard them use when they fly out from my local airport. I've seen them from Jacksonville to El Paso and I'm sure they are everywhere in-between and beyond. Our tax dollars at work.
I feel so much safer after reading this,,, I just had a shiver go up my leg!
moop 1
I'm pretty certain KBWI is one of the five airports. There's a few ATR 42's based there that fly some long patterns over the region on a regular basis.
moop 1
For example - N315CR
Neal Burton 1
Yeah I agree totally! I bet obama wants to find me specifically and listen to my conversations, I'm just gonna disregard the fact that they only care about criminal phone info, and assume that they are just doing this to violate my fourth amendment rights!
OK< I have to jump in here. I am a member of the ACLU, a retired attorney and just as concerned about my privacy as the next person, but the conversation is going in the wrong direction. First off, whether the fly around in a C182 or park a van on the ground is not the issue. They are not reading or listing to hundreds of millions of cell phone calls to find out if you are up to something, they are screening the calls looking for specific identifiers so they can locate the bad guys.

The issue is whether it is lawful to search for a criminal in this manner, and whether they are abusing their role by collecting millions of private cellphone calls. First, it is absolutely legal, if they first obtain a federal judge's approval on a search warrant. If they ask the judge for permission to search the cars of known criminals and you are stopped at the George Washington Bridge to see if you are a criminal or known terrorist, and then let go, that is not a violation of any rights that you might have. If they believe you are a known terrorist and search your trunk and find nothing, again, your rights are intact (remember, I said they believe you to be someone else). If you are, in fact, a wanted person and they find you and search your car pursuant to the warrant, too bad, they gotcha.

Now, if you are one of those people who believe the government is a vast network of bad people who only want to find out about the pot you are growing in your back bedroom or want to catch you cheating on your taxes or are upset because you called the President or some Senator a bad name, then obviously this is going to raise all sorts of red flags.

For me, I am perfectly happy in being stopped to make sure that I am not the next Osama bent on blowing up large buildings, as long as the large buildings are not blown up by the next Osama. In short, the protection we all seek and want the government to provide may involve a bit of inconvenience, well, live with it. It is the 21st century and there are no shortages of bad guys out there.
bbabis 7
You forget that those willing to give up their freedom to the government for security get neither. You are correct that the government is not a vast network of bad people. What it is is a vast network of generally good people that play the PC game and who are not willing to challenge a superior so as to protect their cushy jobs. In this environment the few truly bad people can wreak havoc with our nation. You only have to look at the most recent and past elections to see the process work. 50 - 100 million dollars spent on campaigns for offices with a $175,000 a year salary. How's that work? well, once in, you can beg borrow and steal to your hearts content from the American people and Washington lobbyists. The lobbyist's money, by the way, also comes indirectly from the American people through higher prices. Corruption flows from the top down and is unchecked by good people unwilling to step off the gravy train. I for one am not willing to surrender my freedom and security to this system. An "all knowing" government and police force is a dangerous thing. Its not that dirtboxes and stingrays could be used for the wrong purposes, its that they will be.
ADXbear -2
Good for finding the bad guys,,, good for off the shelf cell phone purchases and throw away... Is this bad for everyone?
sparkie624 6
This is a clear violation of our Constitutional Rights.. they cannot legally do this and they must be stopped... I do not like having my rights violated by some liberal grabbing my information in the name of catching bad dudes... Sorry wrong answer.. They have laws to abide with just like we do, and they need to start abiding.
Dwight Hartje 3
It violates the Fourth Amendment.
sparkie624 2
I stand corrected, but they are very closely related.
Dwight Hartje 2
This means the "Feds" can spy on any of our phone calls,whenever they like :-(
Cal Keegan 3
Snowden revealed that the NSA is recording every. single. phone. call. Which is, like, a lot worse, to me at least. This is the DOJ looking for some guy and grabbing up 100,000 guys in the process while wiping their butts with the Constitution.
vanbess -2
I am wondering if this is either going to make the news a safety hazard for general aviation operators being targeted when flying around. Or could this be a way for aircraft owners to be able to fund ads-b equipment

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