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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: February 18, 2016 01:14 PM
From: Representative Angel Cruz
To: All House members
Subject: Cell Site Simulator Devices
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation amending Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes to require a warrant for the use of cell site simulator devices by investigative, law enforcement and government agencies.

According to the ACLU, at least 58 agencies in 23 states and Washington D.C. have and use cell site simulator devices. The devices work by tricking nearby phones and other communications devices into connecting to them instead of a legitimate cell tower. Once connected, the device is able to log the cell phone’s unique International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI) number, interact and interfere with the phone, and capture the phone’s content, including calls, texts, data and metadata. Commonly known as IMSI catchers, Hailstorm or Stingrays, these devices affect all nearby phones and communications devices within a geographic area, not just the ones targeted in an investigation.

With advances in technology, Pennsylvanians deserve and should have a reasonable expectation of privacy regarding not just their cell phone, but all communications device information. At the same time, laws must be updated to provide boundaries for the use of technology by investigative, law enforcement and government agencies without hindering their ability to protect citizens by conducting investigations.

My legislation would strike a balance between privacy expectations and investigations by updating the Wiretap Act to include cell site simulator devices. Under the bill, a person is prohibited from possessing a cell site simulator device and no one may use or install a device without a warrant. Exceptions to the warrant requirement would include instances where a communications device is reported stolen by the user, consent is given by the user and consent of a legal guardian or next of kin is given if the user is unavailable. Additionally, my bill includes requirements for the warrant application procedure and content to be included in an issued warrant, directions for information gathered when a cell site simulator device is used and required reports.

I ask that you join me in co-sponsoring this legislation. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact my Harrisburg office at 717-705-1925.

View Attachment

Introduced as HB2046