Are Surveillance Technology Advancements Affecting Our Privacy?



State and local governments spent $115 billion on policing in 2017. These police departments rely more and more on sophisticated surveillance technology to assist officers and reduce crime.

The technological revolution’s rapid advancement changed modern law enforcement and our workplaces. Large companies now monitor their employees in a manner we never thought possible a few years ago.

Are you overwhelmed by the thought of surveillance cameras on every corner? Do you wonder whether your privacy is at risk? You’re not alone.

Read on to learn about the latest surveillance technology police and private industry use.

Mobile Surveillance

Last summer’s protests were many people’s first introduction to mobile surveillance units (MSUs). These mobile towers record activity from a “bird’s eye view” and come equipped with speakers and other recording technology.

Surveillance units like The RATT are strapped to trucks or other vehicles. Their all-weather capability combined with increased power capability makes them beneficial for law enforcement and the military.


Mobile surveillance goes far deeper than a high camera. Police departments use Stingrays and Dirtboxes to monitor mobile phone activity.

Stingrays are simulated cell phone towers. When in use, they force a citizen’s cellphone to connect to it rather than a traditional cell tower.

When cell phones connect to stingrays, the cell phone cannot take or make phone calls or text messages. The police then track location data and check associations between many people.


Dirtboxes, or DRT boxes, are surveillance devices similar to stingrays. They intercept cell phone communication, and their signals force cellphones from 4G to 2G.

2G’s data encryption is much weaker than 4G’s. By forcing cell phones into 2G, police can intercept communication like text messages and emails.

Drone Detection Technology

A person needs a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA to operate a drone. Drones are also subject to flying restrictions. It is illegal to fly drones near an airport, power plant, or any other place outside of state designations.

Drones are, however, hard to detect. Drone detection technology spots illegal use by bad actors to keep citizens safe.

Hidden Surveillance

Hidden surveillance helps the police department gather evidence to build a case. Monitoring criminal activity in this way has been a part of police work for decades. The technology is far more advanced.

Police often use thermal cameras for this type of surveillance. Thermal cameras capture people’s body heat in scenarios where traditional cameras might fail.

Police use these cameras to track suspects in poor light and inclement weather.

Modern Surveillance Technology

Modern surveillance technology continues to change the nature of law enforcement. No matter how you feel about policing, it’s meant to protect us.

The idea of sophisticated monitoring technology watching you 24 hours a day is unnerving. That’s why it’s vital to research and understand the tools law enforcement uses.

Do you need more technology news? Make sure to read the rest of our page.

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