The emergence of low-cost micro satellites has spawned a global surveillance arms race: the familiar problem-reaction-solution paradigm upon what all other arms races are built. It is a topic that I began covering last year when where I detailed the little-known connection between commercial imagery vendor DigitalGlobe and the also little-known U.S. agency GEOINT, as well as other smaller players contributing to the growing arms race of space-based surveillance. The result would be satellites “the mass of a pair of toasters,” that could collect imagery and automate searches as needed.
The Denver Post revealed that in 2014 it was DigitalGlobe who successfully petitioned the U.S. government in 2014 to remove previous restrictions on the sale of higher-resolution images to non-government buyers thus opening up domestic and international commercial applications for this sensitive data.
As if merely working on ways to create tiny satellites that can collect and store data from every square inch of the the planet isn’t enough, DARPA has been funding a project that literally embraces the web it is creating: SPIDER. Read more about that here.
Amid this frenzy of investment in space-based surveillance that could become the ultimate Big Brother technology, once again arch technocrat Bill Gates has felt compelled to get involved. And the projected billion-dollar program he is backing could become the most comprehensive of the offerings I have come across, including access to streaming HD video in real-time for any location on the planet.
The startup, EarthNow, plans to launch 500 satellites to cover Earth’s atmosphere in ‘Big Brother’ real-time video surveillance.
As well as Gates, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and aerospace giant Airbus are also backing the project.
The price of the project could run to $1 billion (£700m), although the value of the investment by the companies has not been disclosed.
It plans to use an army of orbiting satellites will weigh around 500 pounds (225 kg) each that will have their cameras trained on Earth 24 hours a day.
It will onboard analysis of the imagery, though to what extent isn’t clear.
The “activities” that have been highlighted for this web of planetary surveillance covers the mundane as well as the most contentious such as “tracking illegal fishing, monitoring the weather and tracking natural migrations globally.” This can’t help but evoke ideas of an enhanced form of drone surveillance that is already taking shape in police departments around the country as a form of pre-crime detection for routine infractions; climate change and geoengineering management; and refugee and immigration scenarios both real and contrived. Gizmodo notes a few other possibilities, my emphasis added:
…watching hurricanes and typhoons as they evolve, detecting forest fires the moment they start, watching volcanoes the instant they start to erupt, assisting the media in telling stories from around the world, tracking large whales as they migrate, helping “smart cities” become more efficient, providing on-demand data about crop health, and observing conflict zones around the world.
Naturally, project developers offer platitudes about also offering public access to this real-time data stream from their tablets and smartphones. All so we can better appreciate our precious planet and its inhabitants, of course:
‘We believe the ability to see and understand the Earth live and unfiltered will help all of us better appreciate and ultimately care for our one and only home.’
‘We are excited by the prospect of giving everyone a stunningly beautiful real-time window on your world from space,’ Mr Hannigan said.
‘With EarthNow, we will all become virtual astronauts.’
While it seems that this project is in its conceptual phase and may be a way off from implementation, if ever; with Bill Gates’ backing and the involvement of other well-funded corporations, it indicates a future that is being dreamed of by those who would love nothing more than to turn the planet into a giant Panopticon of surveillance and control.
Nicholas West writes for Activist Post. Support us at Patreon for as little as $1 per month. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Steemit, and BitChute. Ready for solutions? Subscribe to our premium newsletter Counter Markets.