New high tech spying technology actually means lower required standards for a warrant from a judge to justify the use of such new high tech tools. While this technology was originally designed for military use or for other security issues, the increased interest by smaller police or other agencies continues to grow.
Last week on Wednesday, officials of the Homeland Security Office were invited to what was supposed to be secretive tests by the Houston police of the Insitu ScanEagle unmanned drone aircraft, which costs between $30,000 to $1,000,000 each based on electronic options. However, with no formal airspace security clearance actually ordered, details of the test were picked up on by a few outside observers.
These 40lb. Insitsu drone aircraft can stay airborne up to 24 hours without refilling, and could be used for domestic spying on citizens ranging from police tactical work in a crime incident all the way to use for writing tickets, most of which would not require a judge to sign a warrant. However, use to spy on single citizens begins to beg new questions about what level of use of the drone should require a warrant.
Another new technology area is the use of cell phones, even when turned off as tracking devices for citizens. Because no personal information is being requested by police agencies, there is a far lower level of evidence required to seek a warrant from a judge to use a cell phone as a personal tracking device.
New technology offers police as well as Homeland Security some important new crime fighting or anti-terrorism tools. In a true crisis situation, new technology also has some important advantages. However, there also needs to be some healthy level of concern that high tech use can be used to go on "fishing missions" to find some legal reason to arrest normally law abiding citizens. When high technology is used to track single citizens, with a far lower standard required for a warrant, the public deserves some healthy concern about the limits of the use of that high technology in their private lives. New technology will continue to raise new issues about the level of evidence required to seek a warrant to use that technology for use on the general public.
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