Mayor Gregor Robertson assured Vancouver police not snooping on cellphones

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      Mayor Gregor Robertson is convinced that the Vancouver police don’t randomly spy on people.

      At a meeting Thursday (November 26) of the police board that Robertson chairs, the mayor asked chief constable Adam Palmer if the force uses a device called StingRay to track mobile phones.

      “We never have and never would and never will intercept any kind of private communications without judicial authorization,” Palmer replied.

      Palmer also said that he can tell the board behind closed doors the tools deployed by the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) in this kind of investigation that is covered by a search warrant.

      “I’m not about to tell the Hells Angels and the Independent Soldiers and the United Nations and the Bacon brothers what type of equipment the VPD uses in high-level, high-risk operations,” Palmer said.

      In the audience at the meeting was Doug King, a lawyer with Pivot Legal Society, who had raised concerns about the possible existence of the surveillance device.

      During a break, Robertson told reporters: “The chief [Palmer] gave a solid answer to the board today in responding to the community concerns about technologies being used. I think there’s a strong rationale for not disclosing what technology the VPD uses, but assuring the public that there’s no mass surveillance or any surveillance done without the approval of the courts. That’s what we would expect.”