Oh Bouchard, you haz Some ‘Splaining to do

Interesting series on local government invasion of privacy events in the Detnews.com

Now, though, some privacy advocates question why one of the safest counties in Michigan needs the super-secretive Hailstorm device that is believed to be able to collect large amounts of cellphone data, including the locations of users, by masquerading as a cell tower.

“I don’t like not knowing what it’s capable of,” said county Commissioner Jim Runestad, R-White Lake Township, who has met in recent weeks with sheriff’s officials about his concerns.

The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office is one of about two dozen forces nationwide — and the only one in Michigan — with the $170,000 machine. So little is known about Hailstorm that even national experts will only speculate about its capabilities. The technology from Florida-based defense contractor Harris Corp. is believed to be an upgrade of Stingray, a suitcase-sized contraption that is installed in cars and used to trick nearby phones into connecting with it and providing data to police.

Undersheriff Michael McCabe said, “Hailstorm helps us capture fugitives from the law, people wanted for murder and rape” and can be used only with a search warrant. He said the federal Homeland Security Act bars him from discussing Hailstorm, but he elaborated at length about what it doesn’t do.

“It’s not a tool to spy on people, unequivocally,” McCabe said. “It does not record cellphone conversations … Hailstorm does not capture personal information on anyone or store unintended target data. It does not take photos of anyone. It doesn’t take videos or fly in the sky. It’s a tool used for criminal investigations and it’s legal and lawful.”

McCabe recently gave similar assurances to county commissioners. He was prompted in part by persistent, anonymous emails that have been sent to county officials and others about the system, but also questions from Runestad.


Sure… like why would anyone question the on record judgement calls from the Oakland County Sheriff?

You Betcha! (13)Nuh Uh.(1)

  4 comments for “Oh Bouchard, you haz Some ‘Splaining to do

  1. Jason
    April 4, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    The commissioner said McCabe eased his concerns with written assurances that it’s illegal for local police in Michigan to listen in on phone conversations. Only federal policing agencies with warrants can do that, McCabe said.

    But of course, no constitutional sheriff would allow a piggybacking fed to operate such equipment for them.

    You Betcha! (9)Nuh Uh.(0)
  2. Tim Bos
    April 4, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    The damned undersheriff is blatantly lying in detnews.com, and that rag is aiding him when it merely states the machine can capture "data".

    Let's get something straight here- the device "tricks" all cellphones within it's range into connecting to it because they perceive it to be a cell tower. Which means that "data" it's receiving is the conversation occurring on that cell phone.

    And Sheriff McCabe said it can't record conversations. Ya, right. You mean to tell me a spy device that costs nearly a half million dollars isn't able to load that conversation into it's hard drive? That's an absurd stretch, and I'm not buying it.

    I live in Oakland Co, see the sheriff's dept cars everywhere and several times everyday all over this county, and I know for a fact that they're not driven by angels, are indeed driven by bad apples, liberals, Constitution haters and every other version of the human condition under the sun.

    And honestly, as much as I appreciate Tom McMillan's voice in Lansing- I'm disgusted once again at his apparent devaluation of my civil rights when it comes to assigning a 90 day misdemeanor to anyone CAUGHT using that weapon illegally. Really Tom?

    That reeks of the thinking behind your anti-NDAA law against anyone assisting in the kidnapping of people in Michigan under the auspices of section 1021 or 1022- because there isn't ANY penalty for anyone found guilty violating that toothless wonder of a law. It's no wonder it passed the House with a unanimous vote.

    And for those of you who are so enamored of Conservative Sheriff Mike Bouchard- screw you. You think he's gonna stay there forever? What happens when a flaming liberal takes the job? SMH

    And the icing on the cake is the requirement to get a warrant. As if, we have nothing but the greatest judges in the world around here. Hell, we've had Supreme Court Justices, Circuit Court judges, and District Court judges censured and imprisoned in the last couple years around here, and that's just some of the bad ones. What about the inept ones, or the activists, or the good ones that are misled or lied to?

    This is unacceptable, plain and simple.

    You Betcha! (5)Nuh Uh.(0)
    • Tom
      April 5, 2014 at 6:34 am

      Tim - I hear you.
      on NDAA, if I suggested arresting federal agents, as much as it may make sense to you, it would not be law. MI would not have been the fourth state to make it illegal. I felt getting the Governor onboard with pushing back on the feds to some degree, was valuable.
      And re: assaults on 4th amendment - i don't take it lightly. I'm the only elected official around here pushing back on the sheriff...and on the NSA. We'll see how the legislative process works out. If my bill, once drafted and submitted, gets a hearing, please come and testify and encourage others to do the same. I suspect that the prospect of being led off in handcuffs and locked away for 90 days and losing one's job is a pretty strong deterrant. But maybe not. I'd love to even see the debate about how much to penalize gov't employees who violate our rights.

      You Betcha! (4)Nuh Uh.(2)

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