Well, it seems that somebody built some of these super Tom Swift radars. Rolled 'em out to cop departments all over the USA. One problem: they didn't tell anybody.
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, a practice raising new concerns about the extent of government surveillance.Obtaining a search warrant is of course something they have not been doing. They've been scanning to see if there's anybody home first and asking permission later.
Those agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, began deploying the radar systems more than two years ago with little notice to the courts and no public disclosure of when or how they would be used. The technology raises legal and privacy issues because the U.S. Supreme Court has said officers generally cannot use high-tech sensors to tell them about the inside of a person's house without first obtaining a search warrant.
And the court has been letting them.
Agents' use of the radars was largely unknown until December, when a federal appeals court in Denver said officers had used one before they entered a house to arrest a man wanted for violating his parole. The judges expressed alarm that agents had used the new technology without a search warrant, warning that "the government's warrantless use of such a powerful tool to search inside homes poses grave Fourth Amendment questions."
By then, however, the technology was hardly new. Federal contract records show the Marshals Service began buying the radars in 2012, and has so far spent at least $180,000 on them.
Agents arrested Denson for the parole violation and charged him with illegally possessing two firearms they found inside. The agents had a warrant for Denson's arrest but did not have a search warrant. Denson's lawyer sought to have the guns charge thrown out, in part because the search began with the warrantless use of the radar device.Despite the fact that scanning a residence with any kind of sensor, be it thermal, radar or even a drug-sniffing dog without a warrant has been specifically disallowed by the Supreme Court of the USA.
Three judges on the federal 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the search, and Denson's conviction, on other grounds. Still, the judges wrote, they had "little doubt that the radar device deployed here will soon generate many questions for this court."
Because its just too handy to be able to use penetrating imaging for fishing expeditions. It may not hold up in court, but if you do it secretly you can always find another reason to raid a guy's place if you try hard enough.