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Santa Clara County Officials Pull The Plug On Stingray Cellphone Tracking Technology

SAN JOSE (KCBS) – The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department won't be getting a controversial cellphone tracking system after all.

Santa Clara County officials couldn't reach a contract agreement with the manufacturer of the Stingray, a suitcase-sized device that mimics a cell tower, allowing authorities to track a phone.

The system is thought to be ideal for tracking missing persons because of its pinpoint accuracy.

"With this, it could actually give us, probably within 10 feet, 5 feet or a room – it could tell us exactly where that cellphone's transmitting for," said Santa Clara County Undersheriff John Hirokawa. "So when we're looking for a missing person or that phone, it's a little more precise for us."

But Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian said a lot more questions need to be asked first.

"What does it do, how does it work, who's going to be affected by this, who will have access to it, how will the information be used," Simitian said. "All important questions."

Privacy groups also expressed concerns about the possible purchase of such a device, arguing it had the potential to violate the privacy of citizens who might not be doing anything wrong.

County officials will now use the $500,000 earmarked for purchase of the device on an emergency communications network.

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