Harris Corporation is an American technology company, defense contractor and information technology services provider that produces wireless equipment, tactical radios, electronic systems, night vision equipment and both terrestrial and spaceborne antennas for use in the government, defense and commercial sectors. They specialize in surveillance solutions, microwave weaponry, and electronic warfare.
In 2016, Harris was named one of the top hundred federal contractors by Defense News. In January 2015, Wired Magazine ranked Harris Corporation—tied with U.S. Marshals Service—as the number two threat to privacy and communications on the Internet.
The Harris Communication Systems segment serves markets in tactical and airborne radios, night vision technology and defense and public safety networks.
The Harris Electronic Systems segment provides products and services in electronic warfare, air traffic management, avionics, wireless technology, C4I, undersea systems and aerostructures.
Electronic Systems (ES) division provides the “ALQ-214” radio frequency jamming equipment for the U.S. Navy's F/A-18 Hornet aircraft. The ALQ-214 was originally developed by Exelis ES, which Harris acquired in 2015. ES is also a provider of components in the avionics package and targeting systems for the U.S. Navy's F/A-18 and EA-18 Growlers.
Space and Intelligence Systems
The Harris Space and Intelligence Systems segment, formed when Harris purchased Exelis, provides capabilities in Earth observation, weather, geospatial monitoring, space protection and intelligence, including sensors and payloads, ground processing and information analytics.
Harris Corporation produces multiple cell-site simulator products, such as the StingRay and Hailstorm phone trackers (see table below); These masquerade as legitimate cellphone towers duping mobile devices to connect to them instead of real cellular networks, so all wireless voice and data traffic originating in a given area are intercepted by the systems, enabling Stingray operators to conduct mass surveillance and triangulate the position of mobile devices.
Originally developed for the U.S. Navy and later used in the global “war on terror” outside the US, they've increasingly been used by US police agencies. More than six U.S. federal agencies use these platforms, including the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says at least 53 law enforcement agencies in 21 states, use this or similar devices.
These platforms are controversial as they surveil communications of all mobile devices in their vicinity, including those of individuals not suspected of any crimes. Harris have been criticized by civil rights advocates for requiring local municipalities, police and state governments to enter into non-disclosure agreements (NDA) and to conceal usage of these platforms from citizens and the courts. Such NDA may violate public record and open access laws. The ACLU, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed two successful civil lawsuits over denied Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and violations of the public records laws of Florida.
In September 2014, as a result of successful litigation, ACLU received documents and emails between Harris Corporation and the Federal Communications Commission relating to FCC approval of Harris' surveillance systems. ACLU then sent a letter to FCC stating, in their view, Harris misled FCC Office of Engineering and Technology staff during the regulatory review process by falsely claiming the systems were only used in emergency situations and not criminal investigations.
In 2006, Harris employees directly conducted wireless surveillance using StingRay units on behalf of the Palm Bay Police Department—where Harris has a campus—in response to a bomb threat against a middle school. The search was conducted without a warrant or judicial oversight.
In 2015, Santa Clara County withdrew from contract negotiations with Harris for StingRay units, noting the reason was the onerous restrictions imposed by Harris on what could be released under public records requests.