TEXAS SPENDS HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS ON RC-26 SPY PLANES, BUT NO WARRANTS
For some reason, the Texas National Guard is now the proud operator of two RC-26 spy planes which cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars. These surveillance craft are very similar to the very controversial stingray devices used widely across the United States. Those DRT systems, which are also known as “dirt boxes,” act as temporary and mobile cellphone towers, which forces all cell phones in the area into connecting with them instead of the actual cell tower. That means all data going thru the dirt boxes is intercepted by authorities who have no search warrants, at all, for every cell phone user who was hoovered in by simply being nearby. Why would the state of Texas buy these planes, giving them the power to spy on everyone they please, without a warrant?
TEXAS NATIONAL GUARD BUYS FLYING DIRT BOXES THAT CAN INTERCEPT EVERYTHING IN RANGE
The controversy is only going to get deeper, as Austin attorney Scott Mccullough explained to the Observer, “These DRT boxes are far more capable than the old Stingrays. The old-style Stingrays were not able to capture content. Guess what? The DRT dirt boxes is… These newer ones get everything.” What that means is that these new systems, which the state of Texas has at its disposal, capture everything that your phone sends to the network, and what it receives. But these devices have operated in a shroud of secrecy all along. Authorities have long fought tooth and nail to withhold all information about just how much data these devices intercept. They have even dropped charges against targets to avoid revealing this information in the court of law. And those were the old devices, as the technology Texas now has to use is far more effective.
EVEN WITH RULES, THERE’S NO WAY TO KNOW IF OUR DATA WAS RECORDED, STORED
There are policies laid out by the Justice Department for how these devices can be used by both federal agencies and the local police departments that partner with them in their deployment. For criminal investigations, they have to secure a warrant first. They also are required to delete all the data they acquired from un-targeted cell users within 30 days. But “national security” operations have no rules; they get deployed and the data is then simply a resource that gets stored somewhere and perhaps forever. So, you may never know that your conversation, texting, video conferencing, surfing, any app data syncing, was completely recorded by the government. Was it a national security operation? Who knows. Was it a criminal case? Who knows, and who also knows how oversight works to insure the deletion of un-targeted cell phones?
LIBERTY NOW MEANS YOU CAN BE SURVEILLED BY BEING IN SAME TOWN AS TRAFFICKER
But not to worry, the Texas National Guard rc-26 spy planes are supposedly dedicated to counter narcotics operations along the US-Mexico border. When asked about the use of warrants for both surveillance and arrests in these operations, a spokesman for the Texas National Guard simply stated, “Our current supporting roles do not include arrest or law enforcement authorizations.” So, way to go, Texas, in making the Lone Star State into a more liberty-free zone. It’s a good thing Texans and all the state’s visitors can rest assured that all our content can be potentially stored in perpetuity along with narcotics targets. And by rest assured, it means we’ll never know, unless for some reason down the line we do. Neither sounds like liberty.