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BANNING INFRARED SEARCHES WOULD HANDCUFF

By Alfa, Apr 17, 2004 | | |
  1. Alfa
    BANNING INFRARED SEARCHES WOULD HANDCUFF POLICE, TOP COURT TOLD

    Heat-Seeking Technology Used To Track Grow-Ops 'Doesn't Breach Rights'

    Police tactics used to detect marijuana grow operations clashed with
    the right to privacy in the sanctity of one's home as the Supreme
    Court considered yesterday whether to impose limits on infrared aerial
    surveillance.

    The court was warned that police, who are losing the war against
    grow-ops, would be hampered by "investigative gridlock" if the judges
    decide it is unconstitutional for police to employ heat-sensing cameras.

    The Attorney General of Canada asked the Supreme Court to overturn an
    Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that police had violated handyman
    Walter Tessling's Charter of Rights protection against unreasonable
    search and seizure by unlawfully using an infrared aerial camera to
    detect excess heat in his home outside Windsor.

    On the other side of the courtroom, Mr. Tessling's lawyer, Frank
    Miller, cautioned against granting licence to the state to use
    technology to spy on people in the place where they most expect privacy.

    The court reserved its decision and a ruling is not expected for months.

    Hydroponic marijuana operations, which number in the tens of thousands
    across the country, need an unusual amount of lighting and, therefore,
    give off intense heat.

    Police sometimes use forward looking infrared aerial cameras to locate
    "hot spots."

    The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled last year that police have to obtain
    search warrants for aerial surveillance using infrared cameras, since
    the heat they detect may come from "perfectly innocent" activities,
    such as taking a bath or using lights at unusual hours.

    "The nature of the intrusion is subtle, but almost Orwellian in its
    theoretically capacity," wrote Ontario Justice Rosalie Abella, who is
    a candidate for one of two soon to be vacant seats on the Supreme Court.

    She ruled there should not be a ban on using infrared cameras in
    marijuana investigations, but that police must obtain a warrant from a
    judge first.

    Her judgment acquitted Mr. Tessling, who had been sentenced to 18
    months in jail after the RCMP seized about 120 plants worth an
    estimated $15,000 to $20,000 from his home.

    Federal lawyer James Leising told the Supreme Court that Canadians
    could not care less about aerial cameras searching
    for heat sources on
    the outside of their homes. FLIR technology cannot zero in on the
    heat-causing activity in a home, he said. It can only detect where
    there are unusual hot spots that can be caused by such things as
    people using their fireplace or saunas.

    "This really doesn't reveal anything personal of any sort.

    "This is something Canadians just don't care about. It's really
    impossible to imagine who cares, other than marijuana growers."

    The Ontario government, an intervenor in the case, argued that the
    court would "stifle legitimate police inquiries and create
    investigative gridlock" by siding with Mr. Tessling.

    Several judges were skeptical about whether privacy rights were at stake.

    Justice Frank Major questioned whether Canadians should be more
    concerned about police searching their garbage, something for which
    they do not need a warrant.

    The United States Supreme Court has already found that it is
    unconstitutional for police to use the thermal cameras without a
    search warrant.

    In a leading Canadian case on the right against unreasonable searches,
    the Supreme Court ruled 10 years ago that police can freely obtain
    electricity bills in their investigations because they reveal little
    about personal lifestyles and, therefore, do not meet the test for
    privacy protection.

    Mr. Miller said that the threat in this case is more serious because
    it involves the burgeoning and virtually unchecked field of
    technology.

Comments

  1. Alfa
    I wonder why hydroponics shops do not have these camera's for sale. Should be big buisness. Look into isolation foil as well.
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