Tinfoil hats won’t stop it. Copper pots won’t stop it. And your home is not safe. When Helena Csorba refused the advances of a police chief in her neighborhood, her life began to become a living Hell. First, it was just being ticketed every other week, but as technology advanced, she began to be targeted with microwaves. What she learned about them and how they have been used against her, as well as thousands of other Americans is disturbing and yet, no one seems willing to step up on behalf of her and others like her.
Further information on the topic discussed in this episode.
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1998 Joint Economic Hearing RF Weapons Proliferation
JOINT ECONOMIC COMMITTEE
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES
Radio Frequency Weapons and Proliferation: Potential Impact …
First of a two-part series:
WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT
Ray gun feared as America’s biggest threat
‘We dance with high tech, but if it breaks, where will we be?’
Published: 12/16/2012 at 8:00 PM author Michael Maloof
Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series. It describes the capability of a lone-wolf terrorist to inflict major, anonymous damage on the United States. The second will describe how easy it would be to create a portable EMP weapon.
WASHINGTON – The nation’s attention of late has focused on a nuclear bomb or an intense solar storm as the source of an electromagnetic pulse or EMP, assault on the nation’s vulnerable electrical grid system that could fry our electronics and wreak havoc on critical infrastructures.
Estimates are that tens of millions of fatalities could occur in the aftermath of such an event as food, fuel and power supplies evaporate and the nation is transported instantly back to the 18th-century lifestyle without a power grid or anything else electronic.
However, a similar threat has emerged from the so-called lone-wolf terrorist who can devise a portable EMP device and aim it at computers in a building, telecommunications linkages and banking automated teller machines – all on which the society has come to rely heavily for present-day existence.
And it can be done without a trace of who did it.
Recent concerns have been raised by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that the lone wolf – someone who strikes out on his or her own without any group affiliation – is considered a larger threat than one from al-Qaida or other organized groups.
Such individuals either may see themselves as supporting the views of various terrorist groups or may have a personal grudge.
Such an individual with a penchant for electronics can pull together components from a Radio Shack or electronic store – even order the components off of selected Internet websites – and fashion a radio frequency or RF weapon.
As microprocessors become smaller but more sophisticated, they are even more susceptible to an RF pulse. The high power microwave from an RF weapon produces a short, very high power pulse, said to be billions of watts in a nanosecond or billionths of a second.
This so-called burst of electromagnetic waves in the gigahertz microwave frequency band can melt electrical circuitry and damage integrated circuits, causing them to fail. Ironically, this type RF weapon won’t affect humans, although there are some forms that experts say can affect the body’s own electrical system.
The pulse from an RF weapon travels at the speed of light and can be fired without any visible emanation. These weapons can come in ultra-wideband or narrow-band, with the latter acting like a laser emitting a single frequency at very high power. This pulse then is directed at a specific electronic target.
What makes RF weapons so dangerous is their compactness and ability to be powered by hand-carried energy sources. Experts say that their range of intensity is from 200 meters to 1,000 meters or from some 656 feet to 3,281 feet.
Concern over the effects of RF weapons has been known to the U.S. Congress since at least 1997 when retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Robert L. Schweitzer testified before the congressional Joint Economic Committee on RF weapons and their impact on the U.S. infrastructure.
His concern then was that readily available technology, much of it off-the- shelf, places the capability of making RF weapons in the hands of lone wolves or more organized terrorists.
Here’s the documentation of the danger: “A Nation Forsaken – EMP: The Escalating Threat of an American Catastrophe.”
Given the rush to decontrol critical technologies due to the downward spiral of Western economies, they are often available to other countries without the needed scrutiny of U.S. licensing officials and are readily available for people residing in the U.S.
When he testified, Schweitzer called for drawing up a list of those technologies needed to make RF weapons and placing them on what was then called the Militarily Critical Technologies List or MTCL, which was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense. While the MTCL wasn’t a control list, it did show how technologies relate to the development of weapons systems.
However, many of the items listed on the MTCL were not placed on control lists of dual-use technologies administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce or the munitions list overseen by the U.S. Department of State.
Today, that list remains only as a reference and no longer is updated. Everything on the MTCL isn’t subject to export controls and isn’t referred to that often to show how certain technologies relate to developing weapons systems.
Part of the reason for virtually ignoring the MTCL today is economic, but the basis for eliminating the MTCL mostly was political, since calling them “critical” suggested that they be subject to export controls and then would interfere with the ability to conduct business in a competitive world.
At the time of Schweitzer’s testimony, however, consideration of placing certain technologies under export control was meant to deflect the ability of countries and terrorist groups from easily gaining access to those technologies.
One of the items Schweitzer gave as an example of technology that should be controlled was Reltron tubes. He said that these tubes can be small or large, generate intense radio frequency pulses and can be used as RF weapons.
While RF weapon components are on the MTCL, Schweitzer said at the time that even then there were no up-to-date guidelines or directives on limiting their access to end-users. He added that several countries have RF weapons programs and Russia admits to selling some technologies to various countries, making them readily available.
“Users of new weapons can be criminals, individuals or organized gangs of narco or domestic terrorists – or a determined, organized, well-funded foreign adversary, either a group or nation who hates us,” Schweitzer said.
RF weapons emit a non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse, even though they project the same type of pulse that a nuclear weapon does.
“As a practical matter,” Schweitzer testified, “a piece of electronic gear on the ground, in a vehicle, ship or plane does not really care whether it is hit by a nuclear magnetic pulse or a non-nuclear one.
“The effect is the same,” he said. “It burns out the electronics. The same is true of the computers in this Senate office building, in industry, or on Wall Street.”
Schweitzer also referred to the possible existence of radio-frequency munitions which contain high explosives that produce radio frequency energy “as their primary kill mechanism”.
“Applications or potential targets would include all military computers, circuit boards or chips, of any description and include …key components of our military and national infrastructure,” he said. “They would have equal impact on civilian targets with the advantage less power would be required.”
Schweitzer pointed out that the effects of RF and EMP weapons have been known to presidential commissions, the Infrastructure Protection Task Force, a Critical Infrastructure Working Group, an Information Warfare School at National Defense University as well as divisions on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon.
At the time, Schweitzer pointed out that there were some 90 to 100 references in 26 pages of the 70-page Quadrennial Defense Review that speaks to this new threat and there were some 2,800 references “while a more thorough search found many tens of thousands of documents where the key words ‘radio frequency weapons’ appear.
“For many reasons the knowledge is diffused,” Schweitzer testified. “In the public sector the subject has yet to draw any real attention or concerted action.”
Schweitzer added that while the federal government is aware of these threats from RF weapons, “a general understanding is lacking. This is true not only of RF weapons, but of their immediate threat to our (Department of Defense) and national infrastructure.”
Nevertheless, Schweitzer said that vulnerable targets include airplanes, ships and vehicles.
“Of interest is the fact that we are doubly vulnerable because we are and will remain, in an era of dual-use of military and civilian systems,” he said.
As an example, Schweitzer pointed to military communications.
“Our military communications now passes over civilian networks,” he said. “If an electromagnetic pulse takes out the telephone systems, we are in deep trouble because our military and non-military nets are virtually inseparable.
“It is almost equally impossible to distinguish between the U.S. national telecommunication network and the global one,” Schweitzer said. “What this means is that it is finally becoming possible to do what Sun Tzu wrote about 2,000 years ago: to conquer an enemy without fighting.
“The paradigm of war may well be changing,” Schweitzer said. “If you can take out the civilian economic infrastructure of a nation, then that nation in addition to not being able to function internally cannot deploy its military by air or sea or supply them with any real effectiveness – if at all.”
Schweitzer warned that in addition to the advanced countries, “pariah” nations have similar interests in developing RF weapons and some have the financial resources to develop or procure them.
“Russian information on RF weapons has been moving across borders for many years,” he said. “The horse is out of the barn.”
To determine whether cheap, home-made RF weapons could be built by people with little technical know-how, the U.S. Army a few years ago conducted tests at its Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
The tests, conducted on behalf of the Department of Defense, were successful.
“The message here is that any number of groups in the U.S. or other countries can do just this, relatively easily and at relatively low cost,” said Mike Powell of Schriner Engineering in Ridgecrest, California. Schriner Engineering made the weapons.
The RF weapons were made from components readily available from electronic stores and out of catalogs. They generated an extremely short but powerful pulse of electromagnetic radio waves.
Powell said that such RF weapons also would be capable of bringing down an aircraft.
LOCATING & TRACKING:
A TTWS or a through-the-wall-surveillance MW RF RADAR gun was used to search Mr. Denson’s home, who was on the lam.
RADAR is RAdio Detection And Ranging + RAdio Direction And Ranging
The FCC calls these pulsed, see thru-wall RADAR devices radio locator and intentional radiator speaks volumes to me.
These thru-wall RADAR gun computers detect “micro-motion”, such as breath-rate, heartbeat and speech and recognize gesture, gait, eye gaze movement and emotion. These are human identifying bio-metric signatures. Pulsed RADAR radio waves, through-walls, can ‘LOCATE’ and then ‘TRACK’ a moving target. https://www.trxsystems.com/
DIELECTRIC PERMITTIVITY properties:
Whether ground penetrating (GPR) or building walls penetrating RADAR, the computer interprets what it ‘sees’ by evaluating the RF echo ‘returns’, using the gaseous, solid or liquid matters’ Dielectric Permittivity property.
“The focus must be on research by parties free from ties to vested interests. Such research is needed not only to explain and address the symptoms in diplomats, but also for the benefit of the small fraction –but large number – of persons outside the diplomatic corps, who are beset by similar problems.””‘
News | May 13, 2019
A Smart RADAR System For Gesture Recognition And Non-Contact Vital Signs Monitoring
Imec adds machine learning to its 140GHz RADAR technology to enable intuitive man-machine interactions
This week, at FutureSummits 2019, imec, a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies, presents a compact highly-sensitive 140GHz MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output) RADAR system. The MIMO setup is demonstrated for gesture recognition, supporting intuitive man-machine interactions. In addition, the ultra-fine resolution of this RADAR allows the detection micro-skin movements related to vital signs serving applications like non-contact driver monitoring or patient monitoring.
Key differentiators of imec’s 140GHz RADAR-on-chip prototype system are its small size and high RADAR performance – in terms of resolution and motion sensitivity. The RADAR operates up to 10m (33-feet) range, with 15mm (0.56 inches) range resolution and 10GHz of RF bandwidth. Multiple antenna paths are incorporated to enable a complete (virtual) 1×4 MIMO configuration to achieve angular target separation. The transceiver chip features on-chip antennas and are integrated in 28nm bulk CMOS technology, ensuring a low-cost solution at high volume production. These properties make the RADAR system particularly appealing for applications where high-precision, small-motion based detection is key.
By adding machine learning capabilities, imec has now demonstrated the feasibility of the RADAR to detect and classify small motions based on Doppler information.
“This opens new opportunities, for example, enabling gesture recognition for intuitive man-machine interactions”, adds Barend van Liempd, R&D manager at imec. “Think about the AR/VR space, where the new RADAR can support intuitive interaction with virtual objects. Gesture recognition can potentially also enable intuitive device control – complementary to existing interfaces such as voice control or smart touch screens.”
Being insensitive to lighting conditions and preserving privacy (a RADAR can so far not recognize humans), a radar solution has particular advantages over other types of motion sensors, for example time-of-flight-based infrared cameras. And, being extremely compact, imec’s 140GHz radar system can be integrated invisibly in almost every device, such as laptops, smartphones or screen bezels.
Imec has developed a specific machine learning algorithm based on a multi-layer neural network including an LSTM layer and using supervised learning to train the inference model by using in-house labeled recordings of more than 25 people, including several captures for each of 7 different gestures. Against the experimental dataset, the model classifies the recorded 7 gestures and predicts the right gesture at least 94% of the time.
Aside from gestures, vital signs can also be measured with very high precision thanks to the high radio frequency. Therefore, the RADAR is an excellent candidate for in-car vital sign monitoring systems, to enable non-contact tracking of the driver’s state, e.g. to detect falling asleep, abnormal stress levels or possibly to prevent accidents due to acute health hazards, e.g. heart or epilepsy attacks. Another possible application is to monitor small children using motion and vital signs detection, even when the infant is covered by a blanket and asleep, e.g. to provide an alert in case a child is unintentionally left in a vehicle.
To enlarge data richness and spatial information, imec is currently building a 4×4 MIMO RADAR system, for which a new generation of radar chips is under development – incorporating the TX and RX as separate chips. This will allow a greater flexibility in distributing the MIMO array elements across the available area. It will also be explored if the functionality of the standalone RADAR chips can be increased, to enable MIMO systems with even larger arrays of chips.
Imec’s 140GHz radar was developed in its open innovation R&D collaborative program on RADAR technology. Interested companies can partake in the program or in a bilateral R&D project or license the technology building blocks.
Imec is a world-leading research and innovation hub in nanoelectronics and digital technologies. The combination of our widely acclaimed leadership in microchip technology and profound software and ICT expertise is what makes us unique. By leveraging our world-class infrastructure and local and global ecosystem of partners across a multitude of industries, we create groundbreaking innovation in application domains such as healthcare, smart cities and mobility, logistics and manufacturing, energy and education.
As a trusted partner for companies, start-ups and universities we bring together more than 4,000 brilliant minds from over 97 nationalities. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium and has distributed R&D groups at a number of Flemish universities, in the Netherlands, Taiwan, USA and offices in China, India and Japan.
In 2018, imec’s revenue (P&L) totaled 583 million euro. For more information, visit www.imec-int.com.
News | May 8, 2019
Wireless Movement-Tracking System Could Collect Health And Behavioral Data
By Rob Matheson, MIT News
In some cases, radio frequency signals may be more useful for caregivers than cameras or other data-collection methods.
We live in a world of wireless signals flowing around us and bouncing off our bodies. MIT researchers are now leveraging those signal reflections to provide scientists and caregivers with valuable insights into people’s behavior and health.
The system, called Marko, transmits a low-power radio-frequency (RF) signal into an environment. The signal will return to the system with certain changes if it has bounced off a moving human. Novel algorithms then analyze those changed reflections and associate them with specific individuals.
The system then traces each individual’s movement around a digital floor plan. Matching these movement patterns with other data can provide insights about how people interact with each other and the environment.
In a paper being presented at the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems this week, the researchers describe the system and its real-world use in six locations: two assisted living facilities, three apartments inhabited by couples and one townhouse with four residents. The case studies demonstrated the system’s ability to distinguish individuals based solely on wireless signals — and revealed some useful behavioral patterns.
In one assisted living facility, with permission from the patient’s family and caregivers, the researchers monitored a patient with dementia who would often become agitated for unknown reasons. Over a month, they measured the patient’s increased pacing between areas of their unit — a known sign of agitation. By matching increased pacing with the visitor log, they determined the patient was agitated more during the days following family visits. This shows Marko can provide a new, passive way to track functional health profiles of patients at home, the researchers say.
“These are interesting bits we discovered through data,” says first author Chen-Yu Hsu, a PhD student in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). “We live in a sea of wireless signals and the way we move and walk around changes these reflections. We developed the system that listens to those reflections … to better understand people’s behavior and health.”
The research is led by Dina Katabi, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and director of the MIT Center for Wireless Networks and Mobile Computing (Wireless@MIT). Joining Katabi and Hsu on the paper are CSAIL graduate students Mingmin Zhao and Guang-He Lee and alumnus Rumen Hristov SM ’16.
Predicting “tracklets” and identities
When deployed in a home, Marko shoots out an RF signal. When the signal rebounds, it creates a type of heat map cut into vertical and horizontal “frames” which indicates where people are in a three-dimensional space. People appear as bright blobs on the map. Vertical frames capture the person’s height and build, while horizontal frames determine their general location. As individuals walk, the system analyzes the RF frames — about 30 per second — to generate short trajectories, called tracklets.
A convolutional neural network — a machine-learning model commonly used for image processing — uses those tracklets to separate reflections by certain individuals. For each individual it senses, the system creates two “filtering masks”, which are small circles around the individual. These masks basically filter out all signals outside the circle, which locks in the individual’s trajectory and height as they move. Combining all this information — height, build and movement — the network associates specific RF reflections with specific individuals.
But to tag identities to those anonymous blobs, the system must first be “trained”. For a few days, individuals wear low-powered accelerometer sensors, which can be used to label the reflected radio signals with their respective identities. When deployed in training, Marko first generates users’ tracklets, as it does in practice. Then, an algorithm correlates certain acceleration features with motion features. When users walk, for instance, the acceleration oscillates with steps, but becomes a flat line when they stop. The algorithm finds the best match between the acceleration data and tracklet and labels that tracklet with the user’s identity. In doing so, Marko learns which reflected signals correlate to specific identities.
The sensors never have to be charged, and, after training, the individuals don’t need to wear them again. In home deployments, Marko was able to tag the identities of individuals in new homes with between 85 and 95 percent accuracy.
Striking a good (data-collection) balance
The researchers hope health care facilities will use Marko to passively monitor, say, how patients interact with family and caregivers, and whether patients receive medications on time. In an assisted living facility, for instance, the researchers noted specific times a nurse would walk to a medicine cabinet in a patient’s room and then to the patient’s bed. That indicated that the nurse had, at those specific times, administered the patient’s medication.
The system may also replace questionnaires and diaries currently used by psychologists or behavioral scientists to capture data on their study subjects’ family dynamics, daily schedules or sleeping patterns, among other behaviors (including those “PRIVATE” moments in your bathroom or affectionate moments in your bedroom). Those traditional recording methods can be inaccurate, contain bias and aren’t well-suited for long-term studies, where people may have to recall what they did days or weeks ago. Some researchers have started equipping people with wearable sensors to monitor movement and biometrics.
But elderly patients, especially, often forget to wear or charge them. “The motivation here is to design better tools for researchers,” Hsu says.
Why not just install cameras? For starters, this would require someone watching and manually recording all necessary information. Marko, on the other hand, automatically tags behavioral patterns — such as motion, sleep and interaction — to specific areas, days and times.
Also, video is just more invasive, Hsu adds: “Most people aren’t that comfortable with being filmed all the time, especially in their own home. Using radio signals to do all this work strikes a good balance between getting some level of helpful information, but not making people feel uncomfortable.”
Katabi and her students also plan to combine Marko with their prior work on inferring breathing and heart rate from the surrounding radio signals. Marko will then be used to associate those biometrics with the corresponding individuals. It could also track people’s walking speeds, which is a good indicator of functional health in elderly patients.
“The potential here is immense,” says Cecilia Mascolo, a professor of mobile systems in the Department of Computer Science and Technology at Cambridge University. “With respect to imaging through cameras, it offers a less data-rich and more targeted model of collecting information, which is very welcome from the user privacy (anonymously pulsing) perspective. The data collected, however, is still very rich and the paper evaluation shows accuracy which can enable a number of very useful applications, for example in elderly care, medical adherence monitoring or even hospital care.”
“Yet, as a community, we need to aware of the privacy risks that this type of technology bring,” Mascolo adds. Certain computation techniques, she says, should be considered to ensure the data remains private.
“Reprinted with permission of MIT News”
SOURCE: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Some TTWS surveillance devices have Volkswagen Rabbit capabilities; some are tricked out as a Lamborghini, as is recapped in the DoJ publication:
Every place you read RADAR in the article below, which is radiofrequency, (RADAR was coined in 1940 by the United States Navy as an acronym for RAdio Detection And Ranging) substitute TTWS (Through-The-Wall-Sensor) device (which is also a RADAR radiofrequency). And substitute yourself when the article talks about a TARGET. And when you see the ‘RWR computer(RADAR Warning Receiver) has determined’ that the TARGET has been located; that is YOU on that TTWS computer screen using the Doppler shift of the RADAR return………….. that has located you and has LOCKED on to you.
The primary technology that TTWS uses to lock and track YOU, is its RADAR (radiofrequency). TTWS RF RADAR typically have two modes: search and track. In searc mode, the RADAR sweeps a radio beam across your house. When the radio beam is reflected back by a target (YOU), it is shown on the RADAR gun’s computer display (that’s the TTWS device’s computer screen); then it can lock onto YOU with a click of a mouse that is on the computer screen of the TTWS RADAR display. And YOU, the TARGET is target
locked. Using mouse and the RADAR gun’s computer, algorithm software, you can choose the RF frequency, the RF power density and the body part, to hurt, to burn, to vibrate, to pulse with pressurewaves or shock waves of MW RF Directed Energy, achieving
affects ranging from a ‘phantom touch’; to a tight beam-focused MW RF piercing sting, that feels like ‘electrocution’ to the skin; or multiple stings, using a wider beam of pulsed MW RF (over an area the size of a dinner plate) that is beyond itching.
This adjustable focus of the RF of the RADAR can best be demonstrated by the adjustable focus of a flashlight; which zoom lens allows you to easily switch from a narrow beam to widespread coverage ==>> Outlite A100 900 High Lumens Ultra Bright – CREE XML T6 LED Tactical Flashlight with Adjustable Focus https://www.amazon.com/dp/
But the TTWS device uses RF RADAR to achieve its narrow beam focusing, pain capabilities to a wider beam, widespread ‘bee stings’ assault. TTWS has controls for the rapidity of the pulses; which also influences the type of sensation you feel directed at you through your walls.
This video of the skin and its complex sensors is a depiction of how our skin can feel and how it interprets these beam focused microwave RF assaults on our body.
Pain Receptors of the Skin – A VERY SHORT video of pain receptors of the skin and an explanation:
Some TTWS devices can tell if it is being jammed. Read the https://www.justnet.org/pdf/
There are two ways, that I know of, to jam a radiofrequency.
One way is with another radiofrequency as described in the article below – they’ll confuse each other* and a ‘SPARK’ like in a spark-gap generator or TESLA coil, that acts like ‘noise’ to jam the signal.
For protection, maybe a really good FARADAY CAGE ‘refrigerator’ that Edward Snowden talked about in http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.
Awire, tight-mesh screening ‘Faraday Cage’, that some talk about, does NOT deter a beam focused RF Directed Energy TTWS device. It might shield you from your SMART METER but not from a beam focused Directed Energy microwave Radio Frequency device.
The fourth way to beat this; is to win in court.
The way I ‘absorb’ the RF (radiofrequency) and mitigate some of its affect on me, is with the GEL PACK pillows that I ‘make as part of my body as possible’, utilizing the microwave ‘skin effect’ http://onlinelibrary.wiley.
If the RF DE is very tight beam focused by the TTWS device; there is not much you can do to protect yourself.
RADAR is just ra
dio waves. Just as your FM radio converts radio waves into sound, RADAR can be SONIFIED – you can get an idea of how sonification works from “Sonification of You”
http://www.sonification.co.uk/so can the TTWS device convert your being into sounds and alerts as you move about and analyzes incoming radio signals to figure out who’s doing what. This is called an RWRor RADAR warning receiver, which has both a video and audio component on the TTWS computer screen.
Each time a new RADAR signal is detected, it is converted into an audio wave and played as an ALERT for your tormentor, on their computer screen. You move, they can have their computer programmed to alert them. Your breathing pattern changes (let’s say you fell asleep), they can have their computer programmed to give an alert, that you fell asleep. Most TTWS devices can not only ‘see’ you but also pick up the slightest movement, like your breath rate or heartbeat, PLUS discern speech from a STAND OFF RANGE, as far as 1,000 feet.
The RF assaults are very specific to a TARGET, just like the Audio Spotlight (a.k.a. Hypersonic Sound) is very specific to a column of sound, directed at one specific person, so the person next to you, just does not understand what is going on with you; they are not hearing or feeling what you are. http://www.woodynorris.com/
I also think since the TTWS devices are ‘up close and personal’ (35 feet to 1,000 feet stand off range, depending on the device — much closer than the pilot’s target on his RADAR screen); that the RF (radiofrequency) imaging is better represented by the MIT image of a sleeping baby as in http://news.mit.edu/2014/
Deputy describes Range-R device
Deputy U.S. Marshal Josh Moff testified, he used a Range-R to detect that someone was inside.https://www.documentcloud.org/
More than 50 U.S. law enforcement agencies are using a type of RADAR that effectively lets officers peer through the walls of homes to determine whether anyone is inside.
Agencies began using the RADAR, known as Range-R, more than two years ago without informing the public and with little notice to the courts. According to USA Today, federal contract records indicate that the U.S. Marshals Service began purchasing the technology in 2012, spending at least $180,000 on Range-R to date.
But its use was only made public in December when a federal appeals court in Denver said that the radar had been used before entering a house to arrest a man named Steven Denson for violating the conditions of his parole.
The technology uses radio waves to detect even the slightest movement, such as a human breathing, from more than 50 feet away. While the device does not display an image, it does alert officers that it has detected movement and indicates how far away that movement is.
The RADAR raises a slew of legal and privacy concerns, especially since the Supreme Court ruled in 2001 in Kyllo v. United States that the use of thermal imaging to monitor the heat from a person’s home constitutes a search and therefore requires a warrant.
While the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the search in Denson’s case, the judges wrote that they had “little doubt that the RADAR device deployed here will soon generate many questions for this court”.
“What happens in your home is supposed to receive the highest level of protection under the law,” says Christopher Soghoian, the American Civil Liberties Union‘s principal technologist. “At least if the police kick down your front door or knock on your front door and demand to come in, you know they are looking inside…you can at least voice your opposition. When the police use a device like this, you have no idea that they are doing it.”
“I think that one of the reasons why so many of these Snowden revelations have been troubling isn’t because the government is doing this, it’s that the government did it and didn’t tell us,” he continues. “There has been no legislation that has been passed explicitly authorizing the use of this technology.… And technologies that allow the government to see into your living room and see into your bedroom should be debated publicly.”
While it is unknown whether law enforcement uses the more high-tech RADAR, many technologies currently sit in law enforcement’s surveillance arsenal, which have also been introduced without public debate and used secretly.
One example are “stingrays“, which allow agencies to extract data from cell phones like location and call logs. It is only through uncovered documents that the public is learning what the technology is and how it is being used by law enforcement.
“When law enforcement agencies introduce surveillance technology without telling Congress and the courts it short circuits democracy,” says Soghoian.
According to L-3 Communications, the Range-R’s maker, around 200 devices have been sold for about $6,000 per device.
Police now ‘see’ through walls and know if you’re home
Technically Incorrect: The Range-R is a piece of military equipment that police are using now to check if there’s someone in a building.
Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.
IMAGE: The Radar-R is handheld and can detect whether there is human life inside a building. Radar-R screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNETPolice forces increasingly are taking advantage of the technology behind military equipment initially designed for combat.
Sometimes, though, the police might be coy about which of these gadgets they use to protect and serve.
USA Today reports that, for a couple of years now, some police forces have been using a device that can determine whether a building is occupied — without having to enter the premises. However, this information only came to light when a police officer at a suppression hearing in a Denver court said that he’d used a Range-R.
He described the Range-R as a “hand-held Doppler RADAR device”. He added: “It picks up breathing, human breathing and movement within a house.” In the Denver case, police were trying to apprehend someone who allegedly had violated his parole.
The Range-R’s manufacturers explain that the device is to be held against a wall. Users then push a couple of buttons that send RADAR pulses through the wall to detect if anyone is inside. The device covers a conical view of 160 degrees. It works in a range of around 50 feet.
Clearly, though, those who still value their privacy will be concerned. What’s to stop any member of law enforcement from placing one against anyone’s wall just to see if they’re home? Theoretically nothing.
That said, in 2013, the Supreme Court heard the case of Florida vs Jardines. Here, police led a drug-sniffer dog to a suspect’s porch. The dog detected marijuana plants. The suspect was arrested. The court suppressed that evidence. Citing the Fourth Amendment, the court argued for “the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion”. It added that the area immediately surrounding the home “is part of the home itself for Fourth Amendment purposes”.
With the Range-R, you may not even know the intrusion is happening.
I have contacted Range-R’s manufacturers, L-3 Communications, to ask how many police forces are supplied with this equipment. I will update, should I hear.
I also have contacted some police forces to ask whether they might use a Range-R occasionally. Again, I will update, should they confess.
It’s entirely understandable that police forces would want to use the most updated equipment. Their reticence about admitting the technology’s use is, again, understandable — but is it right?
There’s inevitably the temptation to use gadgets such as Range-R without a warrant. In the case with so-called Stingrays — devices that mimic cell-towers to capture phone data — the FBI has argued that warrants aren’t necessary at all.
As technology becomes more and more intrusive — and surreptitiously so — the idea of your home being a safe haven begins to seem wistful at best.
Forget X-Ray Vision. You Can See Through Walls With Radio
Researchers at MIT, actualizers of all things science fiction, have taken a different tack to seeing through walls: radio waves.
Jason Dorfman/MIT CSAIL
Who wouldn’t enjoy a little x-ray vision, really? You could cheat at cards, for one. And that game where someone puts something under one of three cups and you have to guess where it is. Easy.
Of course, x-ray vision would come with a downside, in that you’d be spraying all your surveillance targets with radiation. So researchers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, actualizers of all things science fiction, have taken a different tack to seeing through walls: radio waves. By flinging ultralow-power radio signals, 1,000 times milder than standard Wi-Fi, they can not only detect humans behind a wall but track their movements in fine detail.
The system works not unlike aircraft RADAR. But instead of bouncing off planes and returning to the ground, the signal here travels through the wall, bounces off a human (we’re full of water, which radio signals have a hard time penetrating) and comes back through the wall and into a detector.
It’s a simple concept that was difficult to execute—because once that signal makes it back to the researchers, it’s very, very noisy. “You’re not just receiving a reflection from the human body, you’re receiving reflections from everything,” says MIT CSAIL computer scientist Dina Katabi, coauthor of a new paper describing the process. “The reflection from the wall will be much much bigger than the reflection from the signal that traversed the wall and reflected off the human body and traversed the wall again back toward you.”
Yeah, it’s messy. But that’s what neural networks are for. Your classic machine learning relies on labeling to train an AI. So, “this is a cat” for instance, to get it to recognize objects in photos. Or in Silicon Valley “hotdog” or “not hotdog”.
Radio signals are rather more … mysterious: You can’t just look at one and say, “Aha, an elbow!” So the researchers devised a clever workaround. They set up a camera to simultaneously record a person they were bombarding with radio signals. “From that image you can extract the key points of the body,” says Katabi. “We use annotations in the image as the teacher for the neural network that is working just with radio signal.” The AI trained on video could then be matched to the mess of radio signals, allowing it to associate those labeled body parts with the subtle radio reflections coming back through the wall. “Imagine you teaching a kid some math problem and suddenly he becomes smarter, he can solve problems that you can’t solve,” says Katabi.
“It’s not just a location,” Katabi says. “It’s exact movements. So by looking at the gait, that is actually a feature that distinguishes one person from another in the same way your fingerprint distinguishes you.”
Potentially invasive in the wrong hands, sure, but also potentially good for privacy in other applications. (In fairness, all the data they collected so far was anonymous and encrypted.)
Imagine using it to non-intrusively keep tabs on the sleeping, eating, and moving schedules of an elderly parent, as well as signs of distress. “Think about the other extreme: You can deploy cameras everywhere in someone’s home and try to get similar information,” Katabi says. This radio system, after all, would be clothing-agnostic, since it only produces stick figures.
Seeing through walls would also be handy for robots—they could peer around corners to avoid running into people coming the other way. (Alternatively, you might see around corners with lasers or even by detecting subtle changes in light.)
Superman would be so proud. Or jealous. One of the two.
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