A VICE News investigation has found evidence that sophisticated surveillance equipment that spies on people’s phones is being used across London, and uncovered a growing black market for the technology worldwide.
Signs of IMSI catchers — also known as stingrays or cell-site simulators — were found at several locations in the British capital, including UK parliament, a peaceful anti-austerity protest, and the Ecuadorian embassy.
A former senior surveillance insider also confirmed to VICE News that they have been used by UK police.
The portable devices are typically used by state law enforcement. They monitor thousands of phones at a time, and are capable of intercepting calls, text messages, and emails.
After going undercover, however, VICE News was offered an IMSI catcher for $15,000 from a company that claimed to have sold the devices to private companies and state law enforcement all over the world — including Russia, Africa, and the US.