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Step two of redacted surveillance guide raises questions about step one

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The investigative Freedom of Information Act reporters at MuckRock have obtained thousands of pages of FBI documents related to "Stingrays," cellphone trackers that are in use by law enforcement around the country but that government agencies refuse to discuss. The only problem with the documents? They're redacted to near oblivion.

That's unfortunate for champions of government transparency, but, as the stars break through the dark sky on a clear summer night, or as a Dadaist poem is created with the aid of an unseen hand, so do brief clips of text emerge between redactions.

A document from 2005, called GSM Cellphone Tracking For Dummies (highlighted by Motherboard), lists 10 questions to ask yourself "prior to tracking," as well as nine steps instructing the user thereafter. The steps are completely redacted, with one odd exception:

step two

"Turn StingRay system on."

The question this raises is clear: What could step one be? Some ideas:

  • Grapple with conscience over ethics of surveillance in the modern age.
  • Plug in device.
  • Call your loved ones.
  • Turn on some bumpin' electronica.
  • Redact surveillance guide.

Realistically, though, this is most likely: