Dow Jones & Co., publisher of the Wall Street Journal, asked a federal judge in Texas to make public documents on electronic surveillance that have been kept under seal. The documents, which outline the government's legal justifications for surveillance in criminal cases, are part of a Journal investigation into confidentiality of electronic-surveillance applications, the newspaper said. Like thousands of similar judicial records across the nation, they have remained sealed for years.
“This pervasive secrecy is particularly troubling given the widespread public interest in issues relating to government surveillance and the privacy of electronic communications,” Dow Jones said. Among the proceedings the Journal is seeking to unseal are several related to controversial monitoring technology. One involves a government request to get a “cell tower dump,” a technique in which investigators can gather data on all the phones connecting to a given cellphone tower, without showing “probable cause.” Another includes a government request and hearing transcript about the use of a device known as a “stingray,” which acts as a fake cellphone tower and can be used to pinpoint a suspect's location.