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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

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

How Biden might tackle the Iran deal

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Four more years of President Trump would almost certainly kill the Iran nuclear deal — but the election of Joe Biden wouldn’t necessarily save it.

The big picture: Rescuing the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is near the top of Biden's foreign policy priority list. He says he'd re-enter the deal once Iran returns to compliance, and use it as the basis on which to negotiate a broader and longer-lasting deal with Iran.

Kamala Harris, the new left's insider

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images     

Progressive leaders see Sen. Kamala Harris, if she's elected vice president, as their conduit to a post-Biden Democratic Party where the power will be in younger, more diverse and more liberal hands.

  • Why it matters: The party's rising left sees Harris as the best hope for penetrating Joe Biden's older, largely white inner circle.

If Biden wins, Harris will become the first woman, first Black American and first Indian American to serve as a U.S. vice president — and would instantly be seen as the first in line for the presidency should Biden decide against seeking a second term.

Updated 10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day — U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record.
  2. Politics: States beg for Warp Speed billions.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.