For all of my fellow citizens still putting the finishing touches on your taxes, it might be heartening for you to know that documents obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request show that the IRS purchased sophisticated cellphone dragnet devices known as Stingrays and spent over $65,000 in upgrading a Stingray II to the more powerful HailStorm, in addition to $6,000 to train IRS Special Agents from their Criminal Investigation Division (CID), in 2009 and in 2012.

About the size of a large laptop, these devices work by pretending to be cellphone towers and are able to strip the metadata and content from cellphones with which they connect. Despite their amazingly invasive capabilities, these devices require only a low-level “trap and trace” court order to gain permission for their use. Given their ease of deployment, one wonders if the 12 known US federal agencies and untold numbers of local law enforcement departments which use these devices even bother to file for permission every time they’re used.

Nate Wessler, a staff attorney with the Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at the ACLU says this technology is “…used by dozens, perhaps hundreds, of local law enforcement, by the usual suspects at the federal level, and if the IRS is using it, it shows just how far these devices have spread.”

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Alexandra Bruce

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  • This rigged, corrupt, government never ceases to amaze me.Anything to empty your wallet.What’s next? A swat team breaking down our doors to rob anything of value? For what? to fund the 900+ military bases ,in 191 countries around the world? But they have no money for our senior’s yearly COLA increase for Social Security and raising the minimum wage. Have they no shame?

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