Big Brother grows: 50 police agencies use military radar that lets them peer into homes

By Cheryl K. Chumley - The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Radar intended for the military has seeped into the civilian sector and at least 50 different law enforcement agencies — including the FBI and the U.S. Marshall’s Service — are now using technology that lets them peer into people’s homes via radio waves.

The U.S. Marshals Service has spent $180,000 or so on the Range-R devices — which can detect the slightest of motions, even human breathing — over the past two years, United Press International reported. USA Today reported that some of the 50 agencies that have started using the equipment did so without giving public notice.

Civil rights advocates are concerned.

“What happens in your home is supposed to receive the highest level of protection under the law,” said Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union, UPIreported. “At least if the police kick down your front door or knock on your front door and demand to come in, you know they are looking inside … you can at least voice your opposition. When the police use a device like this, you have no idea that they are doing it.”

Mr. Soghoian also criticized the way in which the technology has woven into the civilian sector.

“When law enforcement agencies introduce surveillance technology without telling Congress and the courts, it short-circuits democracy,” he said, UPI reported.

In December, a federal appeals court in Denver upheld the arrest of a parole violator that came from marshals’ use of Range-R. But the judge said the technology was worrisome and said there was “little doubt that the radar device deployed here will soon generate many questions for this court,” UPI reported.