In a rather terrifying new report, fifty law enforcement agencies have secretly begun to use a new technology that allows them to see inside your home. Unsurprisingly, this has already been going on for over two years. It appears the government has, yet again, conveniently forgotten to inform the public – much less request any type of warrant. The Supreme Court has previously ruled that law enforcement cannot use high-tech sensors without a warrant, but that, of course, did not stop them.
Law enforcement gives the usual hoopla of excuses: officer safety and hostage rescue. If they were so concerned with public safety, why was there no public disclosure of the new technology until last December? Police, who conveniently failed to obtain a warrant, used the device to look inside the home of a man wanted for parole violations. In court, the judge expressed concerns over Fourth Amendment violations.
While the technology may be beneficial when used lawfully, it is more frightening that we are just now hearing about it. My immediate concern is what they were using it for in the last two years. One can only speculate, but, considering they were actively keeping it under wraps, I highly doubt it was anything within the bounds of legal precedent. And these people are supposed to uphold the law!
First designed for use on the battlefield, radar technology has made it back to the homeland, much like amphibious tanks and heavily armored vehicles. Police have continued to repurpose anti-terror equipment for domestic use.
Radar technology is not the first instance of police overreach, nor do I expect it to be the last. According to the ACLU, the Drug Enforcement Agency employs a massive program that tracks license plates. The DEA response to a Freedom of Information Request was heavily redacted, uses outdated information, and incomplete. Clearly, they have no intention of disclosure.
Furthermore, the ACLU reported the technology has rarely been used to notify law enforcement of vehicles involved in ongoing criminal investigations. It appears the DEA has mostly used it to track, collect, and store massive amounts of information on innocent people. According to a redacted DEA slide show, there are over 343 million records in the database. The goal of the program, per another redacted document, is to boost civil forfeiture; as if that program wasn’t abused enough already.
The FBI now uses cell phone tracking technology, codenamed Operation Stingray. The device mimics cell phone towers. Your cell phone unknowingly connects to the device thinking it is a cell phone tower, which gives the FBI a location. Of course, the FBI “considers” it so critical that they delete all the data gathered by it in order to “keep the suspects in the dark”, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
As more and more things become illegal, abuse of policing technology will further decimate constitutional protections. Thankfully, state legislators and civil liberties groups are doing everything they can to stand up to rogue law enforcement agencies. The success of their efforts is yet to be seen.
The American people need to put politics aside to realize that these abuses of power are symptoms of centralized power. We have reached a point where those meant to uphold the law seem to have the most contempt for it.