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State police have technology to monitor cellphone calls

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Wisconsin law enforcement agencies have at least two portable devices which can secretly collect personal data from your cell phone in real time. Gannett Wisconsin Media reports that Milwaukee Police and the state Justice Department have had the Stingray systems for a number of years. The state Justice Department has had a unit since 2006, which it lends to other agencies throughout Wisconsin.

Police around the nation use Stingrays to track murder suspects and look for missing persons. The portable units are like cell towers, sapping up data not just from a targeted person -- but others within about a mile radius, including cell phones in people's homes.

Gannett, which publishes ten daily newspapers in Wisconsin's mid-section, said police agencies and the unit's manufacturer won't comment on the machines -- how they're used -- or what they do with the information they soak up.

Milwaukee Police normally obtain warrants before gathering cell-phone records. The State Supreme Court is currently considering the validity of one Stingray warrant.

In February, the state Legislature voted to require warrants in most cases before tracking people with their cell-phones. Governor Scott Walker has not signed-or-vetoed the measure.