Approximately 50 law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, across the U.S. have armed their personnel with high-tech radar devices that can tell if there are people inside of a house, apartment, business or other structure.
According to USA Today, the Range-R handheld radar acts as motion detector by using radio waves that travel through walls, bounce off a person inside a structure and go back to the device, which is held outside by an officer. The Range-R can also tell if the people inside the structure are moving (video below).
While federal officials insist the Range-R is necessary to keep law enforcement safe, privacy advocates say this another example of invasive government spying.
"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 of the American Civil Liberties Union. "Technologies that allow the police to look inside of a home are among the intrusive tools that police have."
A federal appeals court judge said in December 2014 that "the government's warrantless use of such a powerful tool to search inside homes poses grave Fourth Amendment questions."
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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2001 that police cannot (generally) scan the outside of a house with a thermal camera without a search warrant from a judge. The high court added that their ruling would also apply to radar-based systems in development.
In more spying news, Edward Snowden's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena recently revealed that the famous whistleblower never uses an iPhone because it can collect information on the owner.
“Edward never uses an iPhone, he’s got a simple phone … The iPhone has special software that can activate itself without the owner having to press a button, and gather information about him, that’s why on security grounds he refused to have this phone,” Anatoly Kucherena told RIA Novosti, a Russian language news agency, noted SputnikNews.com.
In more tech spying, it's being reported that HealthCare.gov, the U.S. government's Obamacare website, is providing personal info about users to dozens of companies.
"When you apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, dozens of data companies may be able to tell that you are on the site. Some can even glean details such as your age, income, ZIP code, whether you smoke or if you are pregnant," reports the Associated Press.
Technology experts analyzed HealthCare.gov for the Associated Press and found that third-party advertising and web analytics sites receive user information such as age, income and smoking habits.