Many U.S. law enforcement agencies now have radar technology that allows them to see through walls of buildings and houses to know whether anyone is inside, a U.S.A. Today news article reveals.
Privacy advocates, however, have raised concern over the technology. They argue that the surveillance tools used amount to an unconstitutional intrusion by the government upon the personal domain of ordinary citizens, the Jan. 20 USA Today reported.
The device resembles a sophisticated stud-finder and displays whether movement is detected on the other side of a wall. When movement is detected, it shows how far away but does not show a picture or image of what’s going on inside, the article explains.
“The radars work like finely tuned motion detectors, using radio waves to zero in on movements as slight as human breathing from a distance of more than 50 feet,” says the article’s writer, Brad Heath.
Documents show that law enforcement agencies including the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service began buying the radars in 2012, the article states.
Their use, though, was not widely known, the article adds.
That changed last December, when the issue was brought before the federal 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver by a man on house arrest who was wanted for violating his parole. Even though they had no search warrant, officers used a device known as the Range-R, made by L3 Communications, to positively identify movement in his home before they entered, USA Today reported.
|“The radars work like finely tuned motion detectors,
using radio waves to zero in on movements
as slight as human breathing from a distance of more than 50 feet”|
The American Civil Liberties Union’s principal technologist, Christopher Soghoian, commented, “The idea that the government can send signals through the wall of your house to figure out what’s inside is problematic.”
The federal appellate judges who heard the case last December said, “The government’s warrant-less use of such a powerful tool to search inside homes poses grave Fourth Amendment questions.”
Yet, the court upheld the search as within the boundary of the U.S. Constitution, U.S.A. Today reported.
The article quotes the three judges on the court as having expressed “little doubt that the radar device deployed here will soon generate many questions for this court.”