When I see news about “official” law enforcement or agency incorporation of spy tech into their routines, I get a bit uneasy. Not because I have “anything to hide”, but because I have “everything to hide.”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
Here’s what I mean. If I have property that I’d rather not show the world, it’s MY RIGHT to keep it to myself – from everyone. I owe no one any knowledge of my life behind my walls. I don’t think it should be possible for a stranger to know if I am home, what I own, how I move through my house and anything else about my stuff or activities without ME letting them know by my own decision.
This article in USA Today describes “Range-R”, the next generation in a class of devices that uses either radio waves or microwaves to do just what I described above. “It’s only for Police Use.”
Um, no. It’s not.
Short of something that requires a vehicle to transport, nothing that is in police inventory is guaranteed to stay there. A rogue cop could sell a unit. The manufacturer could “lose” a few. The device might end up for sale to security contractors and private eyes. I’m sure thee are plenty of devious ways in which bad guys might acquire them for use in scoping out potential burglary and robbery marks.
Worse yet…. this is a fantastic tool to assist home invasion scum. Think about it for a few moments. The scum have already marked their target. They fully intend to bust into a particular dwelling at some point. Choosing that time is a risky thing for them. Their success absolutely hinges upon surprise and force. The reaction time for the individuals in the home decides if they will repel, be robbed or worse. If the home invasion scum can determine, ahead of time, just exactly where in the home their pigeons are, their evil work becomes much easier to accomplish.
This device is billed as a protective tool for LEOs in the performance of a home raid. It works just as well for the scum out there, too. Both groups intend to force entry and control all inside the building.
Going beyond this particular “tool”, are the myriad other devices used to protect police, by spying on you. From the USA Today article.
“”The idea that the government can send signals through the wall of your house to figure out what’s inside is problematic,” said Christopher Soghoian, the American Civil Liberties Union’s principal technologist. “Technologies that allow the police to look inside of a home are among the intrusive tools that police have.””
Advanced technology is often kept in the dark, so that the bad guys won’t learn about it.
“William Sorukas, a former supervisor of the Marshals Service’s domestic investigations arm, said deputies are not instructed to conceal the agency’s high-tech tools, but they also know not to advertise them. “If you disclose a technology or a method or a source, you’re telling the bad guys along with everyone else,” he said.”
Is the law enforcement /security community /FedAgency collection of sheep dogs using this argument to keep knowledge of their activities from Joe Blow? I’m inclined to think so.
The practice of quietly introducing advanced spy tech into agencies inventories all but ensures that timely revelation regarding the violation of the average American’s space will be put off. Officer Safety trumps your right to privacy within your own home. I remember when the first public arguments over government tracking cameras rang out. The cry was, “Why are you violating my privacy?” The answer was, “You have no reasonable expectation of privacy WHILE IN PUBLIC.” Why add the public modifier to that defense if the real intent is to violate privacy anywhere at any time, even while at home? Officer Safety is their justification for using any and ALL means (even those you don’t know about) to accomplish that end. And if a no-knock raid results in the death of an innocent family….
Back to the scum argument. Police have “lost” automatic weapons, night vision devices, flash bangs, radios and more. Range-R isn’t immune to loss or theft. Neither is the Stingray, or other spy tools. The bad guys will learn of these things, and will develop methods to use them. As the variety and sheer numbers of these deployed devices increase, so will the chances that they will find homes other than the right ones.
“But privacy advocates said they see more immediate questions, including how judges could be surprised by technology that has been in agents’ hands for at least two years. “The problem isn’t that the police have this. The issue isn’t the technology; the issue is always about how you use it and what the safeguards are,” said Hanni Fakhoury, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation.”
That pretty well encapsulates my thought on this. Used in secret. No protections except for their goodwill and the ever-popular appeal to “department policy.”
I think to myself, “Is this all there will be? Will this activity increase with each new technological break through?”
I always answer myself with a YES. On the one hand, we end up as tagged cattle, subject to any and all searches and surveillance the powers-that-be deem necessary to keep their agents safe. On the other hand, we are subject to any and all intrusions by bag guy scum looking to enrich themselves at our expense.
I’m not good with either of these. Are you?