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April 05, 2018

Engel, Pallone, Thompson Urge FCC to Crack-Down on Fake ‘Stingray’ Cell Towers

(WASHINGTON) – Following reports this week of possible foreign entities spying on Americans’ cellular calls, Congressman Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, today called on the FCC to crack-down on fake cell towers known as stingrays.

Stingrays are cell-site simulators that function essentially as fake cellphone towers.  They allow their operators to trick nearby consumers’ cell phones into giving up confidential information that would normally be protected by consumers’ cell phone providers.

“Press reports surfaced earlier this week that the Department of Homeland Security had identified suspected, unauthorized cell-site simulators operating throughout Washington.  More troubling, it appears that these cell-site simulators could be gathering intelligence on unwitting Americans on behalf of foreign governments. If these reports are true, it marks an incredible security vulnerability in the seat of the Federal government,” the three Ranking Members wrote.

The Members continued: “[N]o action has been taken to date to actually address this problem.  With foreign actors now potentially taking advantage of the Commission’s inaction, the FCC should act, consistent with applicable law and regulations, to investigate these allegations and address any unlawful use of cell-site simulators in the Capital and anywhere else they are used in U.S. soil.”

Link to the full text of the letter to FCC Chairman Pai.

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Media contact:
(Thompson) Adam Comis at 202-225-9978
(Engel) Tim Mulvey at 202-226-9103
(Pallone) CJ Young at 202-225-5735