Anaheim police eavesdropping on personal calls, ACLU alleges

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Friday, January 29, 2016
Anaheim police eavesdropping on personal calls, ACLU alleges
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The American Civil Liberties Union claims the Anaheim Police Department has been using military-grade devices to conducting widespread surveillance.

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- A new report alleges the Anaheim Police Department has been using controversial surveillance technology to eavesdrop on personal phone calls.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, Anaheim police has been conducting widespread surveillance since at least 2009.

The ACLU said the department originally used a "dirtbox," a device mounted to a plane, to secretly spy on thousands of conversations, emails and text messages.

"Since at least 2009, they've had this device that is able to scoop up information from cellphones within the vicinity," Jessica Price, attorney with the ACLU stated.

The department then started purchasing military-grade surveillance devices called stingrays, according to the ACLU.

Price said funding documents obtained by the ACLU showed Anaheim police building an inventory of stingray surveillance devices and making them available to neighboring cities in Orange County.

The devices allow officers to collect data from thousands of cellphones at one time and the ability to track people, according to Price.

"We also know that the predecessor to the device that Anaheim got, a predecessor model the dirtbox, is capable of collecting content, digital voice data and text messages," Price said.

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit.

ABC7 has reached out to the Anaheim Police Department and Anaheim City Attorney. Both declined comment, citing pending litigation.