This week USA Today published a story revealing a new type of radar device that allows police to closely monitor activity inside of a home.
“They’re called doppler radar devices. What they do is, they can see in the home. If you’re a breathing, living human being, they can actually get the outline of your body and know where you’re at,” said John Whitehead, President of the Rutherford Institute.
This technology has been in use since 2012, but only came to light recently after a federal appeals court in Denver blasted law enforcement for using the radars without a proper warrant.
Whitehead said obtaining a warrant before using the radar on a private residence gives it constitutional clearance, but any police officers using it without going through the appropriate legal channels are guilty of infringing on the privacy rights of citizens.
“Before the government does surveillance, they have to have probable cause, which means some evidence of illegality,” he explained. “With these types of devices, they can drive by your home now and just see if you’re at home. If they want to come in under various laws now that allow them to do this, they can come into your home while you’re gone, knowing you’re not there and download all the information off your computer or other electronic devices.”
According to Whitehead, this radar is just the tip of the iceberg. He said some police departments have laser guns that can detect the presence of alcohol in cars, allowing officers to call ahead and have a colleague pull over someone who may never have been drinking. Another tool becoming more common is a stingray device dispensed to local police through the Department of Homeland Security.
“They drive by your home. [The device] is inside the car, but it acts as a fake cell phone tower,” he said. “It actually can download whatever you’re doing on your laptop or your cell phone.”