NSA Transfers Spy Gadgets to Local Police Departments

Monday, May 18, 2015

For those of a certain generation, one of the best childhood memories is the day the Sears Christmas catalog arrived in the mail. Kids eagerly grabbed the book, which was at least an inch thick, and started their holiday gift lists.


Now local law enforcement agencies can experience that same sense of anticipation and unbridled joy as they choose which spy equipment they want from Uncle Sam’s Big Technology Wish Book, or as it’s officially known, the National Security Agency 2014 Technology Catalog (pdf).


The National Security Agency (NSA) is offering technology to local law enforcement agencies, including programs that pick different voices out of a crowd; cryptographic key generation; transmitter location; and even one that can facilitate the sorting of large amounts of data, such as that that might be gathered in a cell tower dump. Some of this technology can be used in conjunction with devices such as a Stingray, a cell tower mimicking device provided to some agencies by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Stingrays allow a user to glean identification data from a cell-phone user.


The catalog outlines the steps an agency must take to acquire the technology. According to the catalog, “In the context of federal laboratories, technology transfer is the sharing of information, intellectual property (IP), expertise, and technology between the laboratories and non-federal entities (i.e., private industry, state and local governments, universities, and non-profit organizations).”


This program is an addition to a Defense Department effort to send surplus military equipment, such as mine-resistant vehicles and heavy weapons, to local law enforcement agencies.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

NSA Gadget Transfer Program Turning Local Cops into Spies (by Kelli Sladick, Tenth Amendment Center)

National Security Agency 2014 Technology Catalog (pdf)

Obama to Continue Arming Nation’s Police with Military Gear, But with Some Tweaks (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

Which Companies Profit from the Use of Military Equipment by Police? (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Steve Straehley, AllGov)


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