With the Rockford Police radio communications going silent to the public, the tables have turned. The police could be monitoring you.Sounds pretty scary if you own a cell phone.

The Chicago Tribune reports State and some local police departments in Illinois, including Chicago and departments in Wisconsin use what is referred to as cell site simulators which allow law enforcement can track you, without a search warrant.

According to the Tribune:

A cell site simulator is a piece of electronic equipment that allows law enforcement to track down a general location or identifying information on targeted cellular devices. The tracker can intercept data from cellphones without phone users being aware it is happening.

Here is a map of what states where local and state police are using this technology. Illinois is one of eight states that employs this technology.

Chicago Tribune Graphic

Civil liberties groups have voiced concerns over the use of cell-site simulators because  cell phones hold a lot of private data.

CBS LOCAL Los Angeles says:

The devices are about the size of a suitcase and can help police and track cellphones around them, including those of suspects. They work by sending out a signal stronger than those of cellphone companies.

Cellphones, even when not in use, are looking for a signal. If near a crime scene, the phone may think it’s pinging a carrier tower, but instead may be connecting to the device.

 

A lawsuit was filed in Cook County court against the Chicago Police Department to gain access to information on the use of Cell Site Simulators. Here is how the technology  works:

It is unknown if the Rockford Police Department or other departments in the area, other than the State Police, use this technology.