We don't call them drones anymore

Great story, very informative. I couldn't help but notice an oft repeated misconception about SCOTUS rulings on surveillance, this one pertains to the landmark decision over infrared scanning on domestic dwellings (Kyllo v US, 2000). The police in that instance used heat signature viewers, noting unusual heat patterns and obtained a search warrant on that basis and raided the residence. In other words they used the technology, disclosed that fact, and used that in a court of law for a conviction. The ruling simply meant they could no longer obtain search warrants based upon infrared surveillance, that wasn't itself authorized with a warrant. The obvious misconception is that the SCOTUS ruling forbids police from using infrared (or now through the wall imaging, by radar or x-ray) technology to spy on citizens at all. Again it just means they can't get a warrant based solely on that information. There was a cable show called Kopbusters (hosted by a former Texas State drug interdiction officer) where they entrapped Odessa TX police who used IR surveillance on a supposed grow house (that was really growing Christmas trees) then lied to a judge about how they knew it was a grow house. If that had been a citizen growing pot and not a setup for an expose the fact they used IR technology just would have never come up. So we can have all the legislation we like but it's wishful thinking that it might actually be doing something unless the public is aware and not under the mistaken (commonly held) assumption that Kyllo v US meant they "can't scan without a warrant". It's "can't use a scan done without a warrant to obtain a search warrant or as evidence in court". Why all of this is so frustrating is because we feel telling them they need a warrant does something to prevent abuses, when the reality is they'd never seek a warrant to engage in privacy abuses anyway.
— February 8, 2014 2:51 p.m.

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