New surveillance camera technology may be flying over your city soon. The new cameras are mounted on fixed-wing aircraft and can monitor an area the size of a small city for hours on end.
The Washington Post reported on this new generation of surveillance cameras:
A new, far more powerful generation is being quietly deployed that can track every vehicle and person across an area the size of a small city, for several hours at a time. Although these cameras can’t read license plates or see faces, they provide such a wealth of data that police, businesses and even private individuals can use them to help identify people and track their movements.
Even the name of the company that created this technology sounds ominous: Persistent Surveillance Systems. Ross McNutt, the president of the Ohio-based company, told the Post how the cameras could help reduce crime:
A single camera mounted atop the Washington Monument, McNutt boasts, could deter crime all around the Mall. He said regular flights over the most dangerous parts of Washington — combined with publicity about how much police could see — would make a significant dent in the number of burglaries, robberies and murders. His 192-megapixel cameras would spot as many as 50 crimes per six-hour flight, he estimated, providing police with a continuous stream of images covering more than a third of the city.
While taking measures to reduce crime is admirable, it seems that some, like Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl, have other ideas about how the technology can be used. Biehl wants to invite the public to see the cameras in action, because it may scare them into behaving:
I want them to be worried that we’re watching. I want them to be worried that they never know when we’re overhead.
Joel Pruce, a University of Dayton postdoctoral fellow in human rights, told the Post:
There are an infinite number of surveillance technologies that would help solve crimes…but there are reasons that we don’t do those things, or shouldn’t be doing those things.
You know where there’s a lot less crime? There’s a lot less crime in China.
Jan Stanley, a privacy expert with the American Civil Liberties Union, said of the technology:
If you turn your country into a totalitarian surveillance state, there’s always some wrongdoing you can prevent. The balance struck in our Constitution tilts toward liberty, and I think we should keep that value.
Here, Craig Timberg of The Washington Post explains the technology:
Be sure to look up and wave hello if you see one of these surveillance planes hovering over your area!
Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”