A cell phone spying program in Hennepin County has lost the support of a commissioner that approved of the initial purchase. Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, who is one of the numerous Republicans running for governor, wrote in a late-night Facebook post tonight that he “would not support the Kingfish purchase today.”
As reported by KARE-11, KingFish is a cellular exploitation device purchased by Hennepin County Sheriff Rick Stanek.
Here’s the background from KARE-11:
It’s not just the NSA spying on your cell phone. KARE 11 has learned that two Minnesota law enforcement agencies have the ability to do the same.
The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension have both purchased cellular exploitation devices that go by the names of KingFish or StingRay. The devices mimic a cell phone tower and allow the agencies to extract data from nearby cell phones.
Please read this story from the Star Tribune in 2010 about the initial votes on the Hennepin County Board for the purchase of KingFish.
I wrote earlier today that news of a cell phone spying program in Hennepin County, aside from raising privacy concerns, would have an impact on the Republican nomination for governor and U.S. Senate in Minnesota. Now that Johnson has backed away from his past support for KingFish, it will be interesting to see what steps State Senator Julianne Ortman (R-Chanhassen) takes to distance herself from this program.
Please check back to politics.mn for more information on this story.