Sheriff zips up over cellphone spying device’s use

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - The Erie County sheriff says he’s done making public comments about a cellphone surveillance device used by his police agency to gather information on persons of interest.

Sheriff Tim Howard told WGRZ-TV (http://on.wgrz.com/1phqUik ) Thursday that he won’t publicly discuss the matter any longer because doing so could adversely impact investigations.

Howard told Erie County legislators last week that the Stingray surveillance device his office has owned since 2008 is used only for tracking a person’s movements, not for gathering content of cellphone communications. The surveillance equipment can capture data from targeted cellphones even when they’re not in use.

Use of the device has raised concerns among Buffalo-area lawmakers over potential abuses of people’s privacy.

The county used a $283,000 terrorism prevention grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to pay for the device.

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Information from: WGRZ-TV, http://www.wgrz.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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