The Internal Revenue Service spent $70,000 on warrantless spying technology, according to a published report, putting it in the company of spy services such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.
Documents obtained by the Guardian through a Freedom of Information Act request indicate the company gave Harris Corp. $71,652 for technology and training for its employees in 2012, in addition to an unknown number of 2009 transactions that were redacted.
The device, known as a Stingray, is a cell-site simulator that sweeps up cellular metadata and, in some cases, the content of cellular communications. The technology captures the data of every cellular device in a targeted area, which means even those who are innocent are subject to having their information monitored. The secretive technology has been used by federal law enforcement agencies for years, but the details are not widely known.
In September, the Department of Justice required agencies under its auspices to seek warrants in order to use the technology. That included the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Marshals Service. The Department of Homeland Security announced it would follow suit, which includes Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Secret Service.
As a result, the CIA, NSA and IRS are the only remaining federal agencies known to have the technology with no self-imposed restrictions, along with all branches of the U.S. military. Until now, it wasn't known that the IRS had the technology, giving the agency a cover of secrecy that even the country's top spy agencies didn't possess.