As you sit in your home right now and read this article, keep in mind that you could be under a type of surveillance you might have thought was only possible in science fiction. But the truth is all too real, and all too invasive.
Some 50 law enforcement agencies across the United States, along with the U.S. Marshals Service, have, for the past two years, been using what is known as the Range-R radar to peer through walls and see inside of buildings, including private residences. The Range-R works basically the same as a motion detector, though it is much more sensitive and capable of detecting if anyone is inside a house, where they may be located, and if they are moving. And as you might expect, these devices have been placed into service with virtually no notice to oversight courts or the general public. Big Brother, it would appear, is closer than we could have imagined.
Privacy advocates say they are shocked such a system would be used without a vigorous debate on the merits and drawbacks. Christopher Saghoian of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said:
“The idea that the government can send signals through the wall of your house to figure out what’s inside is problematic. Technologies that allow the police to look inside of a home are among the invasive tools the police have.”
The U.S Marshals Service counters the privacy argument with this all-too-predictable reply, issued by William Saroukas, who is a former Marshal:
“If you disclose a technology or a method or a source, you’re telling the bad guys along with everyone else.”
The U.S Supreme Court has said in the past that police cannot use high-tech sensors unless they first obtain a valid search warrant from a court. Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the most conservative members of the court, wrote in a 2013 decision that the core of the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure means:
“The right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable government intrusion.”
But with more police departments purchasing and deploying the $6,000 Range-R, until the courts reach a definitive conclusion on the issue, we will be faced with little choice except, like Winston Smith in 1984, learning to love Big Brother.
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org