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Cell phone users outside the Supreme Court in November. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A Department of Homeland Security letter to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) states that the agency found "activity that appeared consistent" with cell phone surveillance tools around the D.C. area, "including locations in proximity to potentially sensitive facilities like the White House."

Why it matters: Wyden fears the potential of international espionage. "The news of a possible foreign stingray near the White House is of particular concern giving reports that the President isn’t even using a secure phone to protect his calls," he said in a statement.

The details: The letter, dated March 22, released Friday and signed by DHS cybersecurity official Christopher Krebs, says the agency ran a pilot program that placed sensors around the nation's capital to search for a surveillance tool called an IMSI catcher.

  • IMSI catchers, also called Stingrays, mimic cell phone towers that can be used for a variety of surveillance purposes. Depending on the sophistication of the IMSI catcher, surveillance can range from tracking the location of specific cell phones to redirecting phone calls.

Be smart: The letter also notes that law enforcement investigations into the detected signals found that at least some of them came from legitimate towers. It also notes that the National Protection and Programs Directorate, which ran the sensor tests, "lacks the appropriate enforcement and counterintelligence authorities" to do a full investigation into the signals it found.

Go deeper

33 mins ago - World

Scoop: Iran preparing to enrich weapons-grade uranium, Israel warns U.S.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi holds a press conference. Photo: Presidency of Iran handout via Getty

Israel has shared intelligence over the past two weeks with the U.S. and several European allies suggesting that Iran is taking technical steps to prepare to enrich uranium to 90% purity — the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon, two U.S. sources briefed on the issue tell me.

Why it matters: Enriching to 90% would bring Iran closer than ever to the nuclear threshold. The Israeli warnings come as nuclear talks resume in Vienna, with Iran returning to the negotiating table on Monday after a five-month hiatus.

Biden: Fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns"

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Monday said that the new coronavirus variant, Omicron, is "a cause for concern, not a cause for panic."

Driving the news: Biden said later this week the administration will be releasing a strategy on how "we're going to fight COVID this winter. Not with shutdowns or lockdowns, but with more widespread vaccinations, boosters, testing and more."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: WHO says Omicron poses "very high" risk — Fauci says Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S. — U.S. restricts air travel from 8 countries over Omicron concerns.
  2. Politics: Biden says fight against Omicron won't include "shutdowns or lockdowns."
  3. States: New York declares state of emergency amid concerns over Omicron.
  4. World: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating worldWHO warns against travel bans on southern African countries — First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.