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Friday, June 14, 2024

OIG: Secret Service and ICE Did Not Always Adhere to Statute and Policies Governing Use of Cell-Site Simulators

OIG has recommended that the Secret Service and ICE HSI take corrective actions to ensure they use CSS in accordance with Federal statutes and DHS policies.

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has found that the United States Secret Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) did not always adhere to Federal statute and cell-site simulator (CSS) policies when using CSS during criminal investigations involving exigent circumstances. OIG also found that ICE HSI did not adhere to Department privacy policies and the applicable Federal privacy statute when using CSS. 

CSS is used by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) law enforcement components to provide real-time cellular device locations for investigative purposes. They allow law enforcement to locate both subjects of an investigation and their victims.

For the cases OIG reviewed, the required search warrants were obtained for CSS uses. However, the watchdog said the Secret Service and ICE HSI did not always obtain court orders required by CSS policies and Federal statute when using CSS during investigations that included exigent circumstances. 

This occurred for two reasons, OIG said. First, CSS policies do not include sufficiently detailed guidance on working with external law enforcement agencies. Second, the Secret Service and ICE HSI did not correctly interpret CSS policies reflecting the statutory requirement to obtain court orders before using CSS or, in emergency situations, apply for court orders within 48 hours of installing, or beginning to install CSS. 

Additionally, OIG found that ICE HSI did not adhere to DHS’ privacy policy and the E-Government Act of 2002 that require CSS, as a privacy sensitive technology, to have an approved privacy impact assessment (PIA) before its use. According to ICE officials, resource limitations and changes in personnel resulted in a lengthy review and clearance process for a PIA. Although DHS approved an ICE HSI CSS-related PIA in January 2022, prior to this approval, DHS may not have identified and mitigated the privacy risks associated with CSS use. 

OIG has recommended that the Secret Service and ICE HSI take corrective actions to ensure they use CSS in accordance with Federal statutes and DHS policies. DHS concurred with all recommendations.

Read the full report at OIG

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Homeland Security Today
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.
Homeland Security Today
Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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