While they work to enforce the law, recently they have come into conflicts with it when technology was used in new ways. From the use of mobile interception technologies, like the Stingray, to the watching people’s online activity. In a recent court appeal, a new tactic was revealed, a Webcam attached to a utility pole being used to spy on suspects.
Roane County Sheriff’s Office arrested Rocky Houston, a known felon, for possession of a firearm. ATF agents installed a remote-controlled camera to a utility pole around 200 yards away from Houstons farm, all without a warrant. Normally required to install surveillance technology such as cameras or phone taps, the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals has stated that Houstons conviction will remain in place as “no reasonable expectation of privacy” was present in the video footage. The reason for this ruling is that as the camera was placed on a public utility pole and only captured what could have seen by a passerby, the images it took would not be considered an invasion of privacy and wouldn’t require a warrant to be legally admissible.
The camera was located on the pole for a grand total of 10 weeks. With such as a short time frame, the observations were not considered unconstitutional.
Judge Thomas Rose, while believing that even if the surveillance was in breach, said that the video evidence would have been permitted, although due to the probable cause they could have gotten a warrant.