ICE: We don’t use stingrays to locate undocumented immigrants

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Enlarge / Thomas Homan, Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, seen here during a February 2016 Senate hearing. (credit: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images News)

The acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency charged with deportations, has confirmed in a new letter that it does not use cell-site simulators, also known as stingrays, to locate undocumented immigrants.

In the August 16 letter, which was sent to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), acting Director Thomas Homan wrote that, since October 2015, ICE has followed similar guidelines put in place by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security a month earlier, which require a warrant before deploying a stingray.

As Ars has reported for years, stingrays determine a phone’s location by spoofing a cell tower. In some cases, they can also intercept calls and text messages. Once deployed, the devices intercept data from a target phone along with information from other phones within the vicinity.

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