Police now using “Xray vision” to see through walls

Think you can hide behind walls? Think againI am not making this up. The latest development in TWS or “Through-the-Wall-Surveillance” (bet you didn’t know this was a known acronym) is called “Standoff Through-the-Wall Imaging Radar” and was developed by a company that has just been granted a waiver by the federal government to start selling this to law enforcement agencies for “emergency use” and “training”. The Department of Justice helped fund this system, so these are your tax dollars at work.

The system uses radar to detect motion through interior or exterior building walls. You heard me right. It can “see” through walls made of brick, sheetrock, wood, fiberglass, even reinforced concrete and other common structural materials (we are still private behind solid metal, they’re still working on that). The technology is touted as being able to track individuals inside a building during a hostage rescue crisis, for example. That would seem a great application of this technology, but you know how that goes: give a man a hammer and he will see nails everywhere he looks, so don’t be surprised to see litigation pop up as police start “training” by watching homes of “suspected drug dealers” or other “suspicious characters” hiding behind enclosed walls, of all things.

The devices authorized for use by law enforcement can be used either up close or from a distance so police could monitor human activity on the other side of a wall while sitting in the comfort of a police cruiser traveling up and down the street looking for “suspicious activity”. Seriously, the technology provides a great new tool for those times when it really is needed. But it’s honestly hard to imagine that something this sophisticated will only be hauled out in those relatively few ideal situations. The temptation is going to arise to apply this to many new scenarios previously considered to have a reasonable expectation of privacy. And that’s a problem. Because the notion of a “reasonable expectation of privacy” is in danger of “evolving” alongside of the growth of these emerging technologies. The effect of this will be an erosion of our Fourth Amendment protections to the point where there no longer is any such thing as a “reasonable expectation of privacy”.

Read the story here.

– RP