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Privacy The Military United States Hardware Technology

Police Nation-Wide Use Wall-Penetrating Radars To Peer Into Homes 290

mi writes At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices that allow them to effectively peer through the walls of houses to see whether anyone is inside. The device the Marshals Service and others are using, known as the Range-R, looks like a sophisticated stud-finder. Its display shows whether it has detected movement on the other side of a wall and, if so, how far away it is — but it does not show a picture of what's happening inside. The Range-R's maker, L-3 Communications, estimates it has sold about 200 devices to 50 law enforcement agencies at a cost of about $6,000 each. Other radar devices have far more advanced capabilities, including three-dimensional displays of where people are located inside a building, according to marketing materials from their manufacturers. One is capable of being mounted on a drone. And the Justice Department has funded research to develop systems that can map the interiors of buildings and locate the people within them.
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Police Nation-Wide Use Wall-Penetrating Radars To Peer Into Homes

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  • Is not it great, how much civilization you can buy with your taxes [governmentisgood.com] today?

    • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @01:04PM (#48857757)

      Huh, controversial use of tax dollars (and a very small percentage of tax dollars) implies that all taxes are bad? I didn't realize we took the worst reported use as the standard use.

      Like Bernie Madoff proved that capitalism didn't work? Or that plane crash in San Fran meant planes were dangerous? Or a particularly cold winter means global warming isn't real?

      And even then, when used with a warrant, I see this as preferable to a bunch of cops rounding corners, getting scared and shooting.

      • by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @01:08PM (#48857807) Homepage
        the issue is that the police in this country have shown that they cannot be trusted. this tech will be abused just like stingrays are used in the grey area.

        plain and simple, any "search tech" should require a court order (clear, not FICA) to be used and if the tech is used without one, the cops who carried it out, the superiors and the department as a whole should be held accountable to the highest extent possible. Last I checked we still have a 4th amendment
        • the issue is that the police in this country have shown that they cannot be trusted

          No police anywhere in the world can be "trusted" to stick to legal methods in doing their jobs.

          Such is their job:

          1. they must have severe powers over us to do it at all;
          2. those powers often go into their heads — and they are hardly the only government employees, who are convinced, they "know better" than their subjects ever will;
          3. they deal with the worst among us quite often (shielding the rest of us from it), which further shapes their opinions and default course of actions.

          If anything, American police are, probably, well above your average bribe-taking empty uniform...

          • While I dont disagree, we do have some of the better cops on the world wide scale. Id like to keep it that way. Giving more power to them has the opposite effect
          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @02:08PM (#48858535)

            True. I'd like to add that another problem that is quickly ramping up in the U.S. is the militarization of the police force. We are heading down a path where the civilian police force will have near equal capabilities, technology, and weapons of the military. And if you don't think that's bad news, just ask Admiral Adama:

            There's a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.

            • Ow, good quote.

            • by mi ( 197448 )

              There's a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.

              I am well aware of — and generally agree with — the sentiment, but, in my opinion, the current concerns are misplaced.

              Until these civilian police are also placed under the same command as the military, the police — along with their advanced weapons — will remain a

              • We currently use the military to train our police and their bosses (police chiefs and mayors) take their orders from governors (who also command the National Guard) and they take orders from Congress / the White House. So yes, they are under the same command as the military, just not as high of a rank.
            • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @03:23PM (#48859427) Homepage

              Be careful here. Real careful. There is some truth to that statement but the implication is overbroad. It is the military structure that puts it's command away from local government. What you want is local civilian governmental control of the police, not federal control. Weapons and tactics are of little import and have been more than a little hyped.

              It's the feds coopting local police by offering money, equipment, communications and help that is very concerning. Of course, it can work both ways - we have seen where local control of police causes real harm to members of the community and those harms don't get addressed locally. The entire civil rights movement would have been dead in the water if the US Federal government hadn't been there to 'overwhelm' the entrenched southern interests. No clear winner either way and checks and balances are crucial.

              But guns and trucks are only a small part of this.

        • plain and simple, any "search tech" should require a court order

          First, I would amend that to say "requires the same standards for judging the reasonableness as any other search." Searches don't require warrants, just reasonableness, and a warrant is one way of demonstrating reasonableness. Searches can be reasonable without a warrant, such as "hot pursuit." When the cops see the murderer flee into your home, they don't have to sit outside waiting while he butchers you until the court order comes through.

          As far as the restrictions on this tech go, their use is already go

      • by mi ( 197448 )

        I didn't realize we took the worst reported use as the standard use.

        You must be new here...

        And even then, when used with a warrant, I see this as preferable to a bunch of cops rounding corners, getting scared and shooting.

        The problem, of course, is not the warranted use of such devices — it is the routine unwarranted (as in "without a warrant") usage, which gives me creeps.

        But nice to see Illiberals confounded by the dilemma of "taxes are good" vs. "government surveillance is bad"...

        • The problem, of course, is not the warranted use of such devices -- it is the routine unwarranted (as in "without a warrant") usage, which gives me creeps.

          What is the "routine uwarranted use"? Is it similar to the "routine uwarranted use" of pat-downs for weapons during initial contact that the courts have ruled are justified? Is it similar to the "routing unwarranted" search of a room subsequent to arrest of an occupant? Is it "routine unwarranted use" if the devices are used to determine whether a space is occupied prior to executing a search warrant?

          I notice you made a great leap from "fifty police agencies" to "police nation-wide". The latter implies la

          • If you're talking about "stop and frisk" then the courts are certainly not okay with that. A pat-down of someone who's being detained for probable cause is okay. Being black, young, or poor is not probable cause.

          • by afidel ( 530433 )

            According to this [blogspot.com] chart the 50 largest police departments cover some 51m people or 16% of the countries entire population. If you don't consider nearly 1 in 5 people being covered by such technology large-scale then I'm not sure what to say.

          • And if YOU had read the first link, you'd see that it includes the FBI & US Marshal Service.

            So, yes, nationwide is an appropriate descriptor. So would 'large-scale use'.

        • it is the routine unwarranted (as in "without a warrant") usage, which gives me creeps.

          The unwarranted use is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruled warrants (or exceptions to the need for warrants, like exigent circumstances) applies to radar like this a while ago. Like over a decade.

          But nice to see Illiberals confounded by the dilemma of "taxes are good" vs. "government surveillance is bad"...

          It's no dilemma. I never said "every government program is perfect." I said, "cherry-picking the dumbest e

      • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

        > Huh, controversial use of tax dollars (and a very small percentage of tax dollars) implies that all taxes are bad? I
        > didn't realize we took the worst reported use as the standard use.

        Not sure standard case works either. Non-controversial uses of tax dollars should not be allowed to justify or excuse the less standard and more abusive ones. If taxes pay for abusive uses then taxes are bad. This is a standard that is appropriate and every single person whose actions are representative of the people w

    • Wrong issue (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @01:05PM (#48857769) Homepage Journal

      The problem isn't the ability of the device. The problem is the lack of due process.

      For instance, if we know we've got a hostage situation, this kind of thing is entirely appropriate, and no judge should hesitate to enable it via a proper warrant. That doesn't mean the police should be free to use it at any time, at their own discretion.

      Same thing goes for any other search tech that enables normal privacy boundaries to be crossed on a whim.

      Search is like any other weapon in this way: a critical issue is how it is to be used, both in what the rules are, and in how well the rules are obeyed.

      • That doesn't mean the police should be free to use it at any time, at their own discretion.

        They're not. The Supreme Court ruled in the early 2000's that the police require a warrant for FLIR and wall-pentrating radar.

        I suppose that doesn't make for a good headline: Police acquire new tech for performing searches; searches still require warrant!

        • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

          They're not. The Supreme Court ruled in the early 2000's that the police require a warrant for FLIR and wall-pentrating[sic] radar.

          The thing is, they regularly act like they don't need a warrant, and they will act on that basis. Just as they are... casual... about other restrictions, and manipulative in escalating confrontations. These things illuminate a severe problem with our present police culture. You may rest assured that these technologies will be misused, and not to the citizen's benefit.

          I suppo

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      Don't worry about your precious tax dollars. I am sure they mostly paid for these things with civilly forfeited assets.

      How lucky we are to live in a society where the police can just take money and property from people they don't like on some thin pretext of drug involvement. The best part is since there is expensive overhead associated with review or due process 100% of the revenue can be directly reinvesting in to further civil rights abuses ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^ additional policing even more greatly reducing

    • Taxes are a necessary evil. They are both necessary, and evil.

      They are also always regressive.

      The greatest reason though is an implied "right" of government to tax its populace to its breaking point.

      Therefore, it is my conclusion, that taxes should be the LAST resort of raising revenue.

  • Maybe some kind of software defined radio contraption in a flying platform.

  • I know, the foil hat theory... But seriously, science backs up that foil works to block RF (and when done well could approach Faraday cage tightness)...
  • Umm.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by korbulon ( 2792438 )
    At least we're safer now?
    • Absolutely not. When the burglers get these they will be able to see if there is anyone at home before breaking in.
      This means I need to be able to create ambiguity or block things completely, without interfering with my mobile phone's reception. Stopping drive-by WLAN eavesdropping is not really something I'm bothered about.

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @01:02PM (#48857733)
    ...and wasn't the conclusion that we were waiting on a ruling through the courts?

    If a police dog is considered equipment, and cannot be used without a warrant when dealing with homes, and if other law-enforcement devices whose specific purpose is to detect into homes have been ruled in the past to need warrants, then wouldn't it follow that once this does reach the courts, it'll be found inadmissable because of a lack of warrant?
    • by MitchDev ( 2526834 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @01:05PM (#48857773)

      The radar will never come up in court, they'll use it to uncover things they can use without needing a warrant.

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        They tried this in Canada with thermocams. The supreme court hit them so hard on that being a warrantless search that crown attorneys and police services across Canada are still smarting over it. There is precedent, and legal justifications are often carried from other countries on things like this.

        • The US Supreme Court did the same thing in 2001.

      • If you can show that the cops used one without a warrant, your case gets tossed.

        • And if the cops never try to use the radar scans as evidence, how will you show that they scanned you at all? In fact, how you will ever suspect that they scanned you so you can try to show they did?

        • See, there's the problem. If something so invasive is used without a warrant it should be the cops who get tossed - into mandatory jail time.

          I mean come on, we've already had mandatory minimum sentencing for low-level drug possession - if a cop knowingly and willfully violates the US Constitution they should be personally punished and barred from ever serving in law enforcement again. No exceptions.

    • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @01:13PM (#48857863)

      No, we already have a ruling, Kyllo vs U.S. [findlaw.com] where the court quite clearly stated the limits of extra-sensory detection equipment:

      "Where, as here, the Government uses a device that is not in general public use, to explore details of the home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion, the surveillance is a "search" and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant."

      • by plover ( 150551 )

        Agreed, it's clear the use of these without a warrant provides inadmissible evidence today.

        So if an open source version becomes available, and people can just print one on their 3D printer so lots of people start using them, that somehow makes warrantless use of these legal for evidence gathering tomorrow? Go, Open Source, go!! ??

        • by afidel ( 530433 )

          That doesn't really get around Kyllo since there were civilian thermal imaging cameras available (commonly used in energy audits) but were not in widespread use by the general public. A better analogy might be detecting the name of a WiFi access point from the street that says "drug den", since the police could use commonly available equipment that are in general use to detect the AP it would not constitute a search.

      • That was written by Antonin Scalia, who is usually a total douche, but occasionally gets things right.

        • The votes in Kyllo were all over the political map.

          Majority: Scalia (right), joined by Souter (center left), Thomas (right), Ginsburg (left), Breyer (center left)
          Dissent: Stevens (center-left), Rehnquist (right), O'Connor (center right), Kennedy (center)

          If you read through the decision, nearly every justice had their own reasons for voting the way they did. That's usually a sign of a bad decision (bad as in likely to be overturned in the future). The good decisions tend to have strong central theme
    • by eyenot ( 102141 )

      Why are you assuming a warrant hasn't already been obtained by the time this technology is being used? In some places it is ridiculously easy to obtain a search warrant.

      In this case, considering that the method of search does not involve entry into the home or even setting foot on the premises, should a warrant once obtained even need to be delivered before this method of search can begin?

      • by afidel ( 530433 )

        With some dangerous exceptions like NSLs you as the accused are to be informed of any warrants used to gather information against you at the time of arraignment as a normal part of discovery. If the police were actually obtaining warrants for the widespread use of such technology you'd think that defense attorneys would be made aware of it and would be talking to the media. We already know that with the stinger cellphone interception technology that police forces used the technology in an unconstitutional m

    • No, the conclusion was that the headline is using hyphens incorrectly. It should read: "Police-nation wide-use, wall-penetrating radars to peer into homes."

    • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

      Honestly, dogs shouldn't even be used except in certain situations, for the post part, their findings should be as inadmissable as a polygraph because; and I want to be clear IN THE WAY THEY ARE COMMONLY USED they are little more than a prop.

      The reason for this is while, they have excellent snouts, they are even better at playing clever hans.

      So if you have an endless line of luggage to check, or lines of random cars waiting.... that is, situations where the handler himself has no reason to suspect anything

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @01:04PM (#48857759) Homepage Journal

    Have they tried ringing the doorbell? I could supply them with a device to do that at, what, half the price of these doohickeys.

    • a selfie stick?
    • Have they tried ringing the doorbell?

      "Gosh, guys, we rang the doorbell and shouted 'Federal Marshals' and nobody opened the door. The guy we've got the warrant to arrest must not be here. Let's go get some donuts and come back tomorrow..." If only it should be that simple to avoid an arrest warrant. A well-stocked larder and pizza delivery could delay a federal arrest by months.

      • Another example of trying to impose a technical solution on a human problem.

        You're supposed to shout "Candygram".

  • by Press2ToContinue ( 2424598 ) * on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @01:05PM (#48857767)

    ... of innocent law-abiding civilians.
    Because the criminals will have these www.instructables.com/id/Radio-Jammer/ [instructables.com]

    Nothing to see here... move along, SNAFU.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by xevioso ( 598654 )

      How will a radio jammer stop radar?

      • well duhh a RADAR uses radio signals. Radio signals are emitted by a radar and it measures the reflection of those radio signals. Read radio waves.
    • They don't "see" into shit. Read the summary. All it does is inform the officer if there's movement inside, which doesn't really tell them much.

      • by fnj ( 64210 )

        Thank you. It seemed like nobody realized that someone vegging out in a chair, or lying quietly in a bed won't be picked up by this shit. Or, on the other hand, there is SOMETHING radar reflective moving inside. Could be a dog or a robot.

        So it really doesn't tell them anything useful whatsoever.

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @01:08PM (#48857797) Homepage Journal

    Title: "Police Nation-Wide Use Wall-Penetrating Radars To Peer Into Homes"

    Summary: "it does not show a picture of what's happening inside"

    P.S. Layout's still fucked. If you're too dumb to fix it just revert to the old one already.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @01:12PM (#48857849) Journal
    Argument one will be that these devices are in no way in contradiction with the fourth amendment because nobody with RF-permiable walls can have a reasonable expectation of privacy in anything they just leave lying around in the open like that. It's not different, aside from wavelength and a few hundred thousand dollars worth of hardware, from leaving things right next to a giant window, right?

    If that one fails (sadly, this can be rated as only 'moderately' probable), its utility against Drugs, Terrorists, Pedo-terrorist-drugs, and similar threats to the community will be trotted out. If (again, sadly, this can be rated as only 'moderately' probable) the judge points out that 'utility' is actually orthogonal to 'legality' we will move to argument three:

    The devices will be transferred to the jurisdiction of an entity with substantial clandestine activity(DEA, say) and all information pertaining to its use will be classified, and all information derived from its use will be laundered by 'parallel construction'; and any FOIA requests, evidence requests by defense attorneys, and similar uppity behavior will be referred to a blank denial on the grounds of 'potentially compromising classified sources and methods'.
    • dont forget the next law. Felony RF blocking wallpaper
    • Argument one will be that these devices are in no way in contradiction with the fourth amendment because nobody with RF-permiable walls can have a reasonable expectation of privacy

      The Supreme Court already ruled that you DO have an expectation of privacy against wall-penetrating infra-red cameras. Prior to that, police helicopters would fly around looking for indoor pot growers.

    • Sadly, two out of three is pretty good.

      The government has gotten so far with the terrorist thing that Congress had to have a hearing investigating why Congress had two previous hearings about whether the American Muslim community is a terrorist threat to national security and what they should do about them (remember FDR putting all the Japs and Krauts in concentration camps?). The pedophile-childporn angle is working so well we can't get proper care for these people: in Europe, broad-age-range attracti

  • And everyone called me crazy when I wrapped my whole house in grounded chicken-wire when I re-did the siding. Now who gets the last laugh?

    Mwa. Ha. HaHa!

    Funny though, my cell phone doesn't work inside the house anymore. Damned AT&T and their crappy network!
    • by plover ( 150551 )

      Just remember: the chicken-wire salesman got the first laugh when he cashed your check.

    • Now who gets the last laugh?

      Everyone who knows that the openings in the Faraday cage have to be smaller than the wavelength of the signal you're trying to block.

      • Wasn't hard to find chicken wire that goes down to 1/2" gaps. Wavelengths of 20GHz and below are more than 1/2".

  • by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @01:16PM (#48857897) Homepage

    The cops need a warrant to use these things is because of an interesting Supreme Court decision from 2001.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyllo_v._United_States

    The traditional "liberal" and "conservative" wings fell apart and Ginsburg joined Scalia in the majority. Scalia's decision specifically addressed future technologies like this. It's strange how he's really good on privacy issues and really bad on everything else.

  • Little different than https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    Discussed earlier
    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/... [slashdot.org]

  • 10 years ago, the Supreme Court ruled, in the case of IR devices, that, although they were passively observing, government needed to get a warrant to use them. Technological adgancements shall not obviate expected constitutional protections. People expect privacy and advances that did not exist then cannot take advantage of loopholes like that.

    So, I hope these people are getting warrants, or I expect to see hundreds of law enforcement officials going to jail.

    By the way, as people move more and more of the

    • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @01:49PM (#48858289) Homepage

      > I expect to see hundreds of law enforcement officials going to jail.

      If that is what you expect, then you are going to have a very bad time. Police only occasionally go to prison and it really takes extraordinary circumstances. We know incidents of illegal searches happen, we know that because evidence gets excluded at trial, yet, only 10% of people who are convicted actually even go to trial.... yet in that sampling, we find illegal searches.

      Now, do police get charged with a crime for an illegal search? The constitution itself garauntees us freedom from searches without due process, not freedom to have the evidence tossed out in court, so far, only part of that is being upheld....where is there ANY attempt being made to ensure that illegal searches NEVER EVEN HAPPEN IN THE FIRST PLACE?

      I see no attempt being made. If anything, all I see is attempts to do end runs around our rights and limit exposure of the truth.

  • by volvox_voxel ( 2752469 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @01:34PM (#48858125)

    I understand that chicken-wire has an extremely high radar cross section, as it's a regularly spaced array. I wonder how hard it is to see behind such a screen. Of course the attenuation varies by the spatial dimensions, A fun bit of calculation would be to find what the right size(s) of chicken-wire you need to block such instruments given their frequency ranges (assuming ISM band?). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R... [wikipedia.org]

    I first read about how strong a return you get from chicken-wire from Stimson's book "Introduction to Airborne Radar" ..which is a pretty easy to read with a lot of colorful graphs, and is mostly targeted to fighter pilots, with blue boxes around the more complicated math for the more interested students. Most books ether have no math/calculus, or are geared toward graduate students. This particular one is a good mix between the two that gives you intuition when reading the graduate books..

  • Metalized low-E glass really limits that stuff as well as aluminum siding. The magnetic paint sold for kids rooms also will create a very high reflective barrier to significantly hamper this tech.

  • As others have said, this definitely seems to be a warrant required device -- cops should in NO WAY be able to just run around willy nilly doing this. The opportunity for abuse is too great.

    I think in the case of a say a hostage situation (or something along those lines), you could argue it's an exigent circumstance and could exclude a warrant. But the exclusion should only in extreme circumstances.

  • My plan is to install a 15ft high wire mesh completely surrounding my yard and gate and underneath my roof to block IR, Radar, X-Rays, and other RF signals.

    Within my yard, I will generate disruptive signals which the mesh will fully contain but prevent the usage of any kind of drone or bug or other wireless device inside the shielded area.

    Surely that should help discourage this kind of privacy invasion?

  • > At least 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies have secretly equipped their officers with radar devices

    I can't think of anything wrong with secret police behavior. I mean, has that led to any problems in the past? What could possibly go wrong?

  • Hudson: 9 meters. 7. 6.
    Ripley: That can't be; that's inside the room.
    Hudson: It's reading right man, look!
    Hicks: Then you're not reading *it* right.
    Hudson: 5 meters, man. 4. What the hell?

  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Tuesday January 20, 2015 @03:16PM (#48859349)

    If a police officer walks by and he is able to look into your house because you did not close the window, it is legal. Right?
    If he needs glasses to see he uses a device to better see, there still isn't an issue, right?
    So this device is perfectly legal, right?

    This is what you get when you think privacy is only about where you are. They will take it away, inch by inch. To me privacy is not about WHERE I am, but about WHAT I am. So it must include not only my home, but also my data, where I was when and what I was doing.

    There will be reasons that this must be overruled. That is what due process should be for.

    Privacy should be the first thing that you must defend. Without it all the other rights are useless. See how many amendments will keep standing if you take away privacy. And those that are not imediatly are gone will be easy to take away if the rest is gone.

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