South Yorkshire Police allegedly spent £144,000 on technology that tricks mobile phones into giving police all your texts and calls, according to reports revealed today.
The controversial surveillance tech is an IMSI catcher. It acts like a phone mast, and gives out the strongest signal in any given area so that phones think it is the best signal mast available and connect to it.
The interceptor can then sift through all your data before passing it on to a real phone mast - without you ever knowing the data has been intercepted, according to a report by The Guardian.
South Yorkshire Police is said to be one of nine forces across the country using the spy tech, including The Metropolitan Police, West Midlands Police and Staffordshire Police.
Documents which The Guardian is said to have seen includes a budget for ‘IMSI covert communications’ for South Yorkshire Police with a spend of £144,000 allocated to it, in 2014.
Although The Guardian’s reports suggest that the technology was purchased, there is no indication of whether it has been used, in which areas or for what specific purposes.
Law enforcement agencies in the UK are not required to obtain a court warrant for use of IMSI technology. They can be used in search and rescue operations for missing persons.
The Star contacted South Yorkshire Police which refused to comment, citing ‘operational reasons’.