By Julia Conley
Millions of Americans across the Midwest this summer are being subjected to surveillance from above as the Pentagon experiments with the use of surveillance radars attached to high-altitude balloons.
As The Guardian reported Friday, the defense and aerospace contractor Sierra Nevada Corporation was authorized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to send up to 25 balloons across six states to track vehicles.
U.S. Southern Command commissioned the project for the stated purpose of creating a “persistence surveillance system” to deter drug traffickers and perceived “homeland security threats.”
Civil liberties advocates were distressed at the newly-reported project on Friday, which the Sierra Nevada Corporation obtained a license to begin on July 12 and end on September 1.
“The deployment of this kind of surveillance capability in the United States is incredibly alarming,” Mana Azarmi, policy counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, told Common Dreams. “Persistent government surveillance, such as that facilitated by this technology, raises many civil liberties concerns and should not be permitted in the absence of a warrant.”
“Mass surveillance doesn’t make us safer,” the digital rights group Fight for the Future tweeted.
Programs like the Pentagon’s balloon experiment “pose a grave threat to basic human rights, freedom of expression, and civil liberties,” Fight for the Future Deputy Director Evan Greer told Common Dreams. “These programs are not about stopping violence, they’re about social control.”
The balloons are being sent from South Dakota through portions of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois. Their high-tech radars are able to simultaneously track many vehicles at once “on a 25-mile swath beneath the balloon,” according to The Guardian.
The data the balloons’ sensors will record is similar to information the military has previously gathered using planes and is sometimes referred to as “combat Tivo,” according to Arthur Holland Michel of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College.
“When an event happens somewhere in the surveilled area, you can potentially rewind the tape to see exactly what occurred, and rewind even further to see who was involved and where they came from,” Michel told The Guardian.
The use of wide-area surveillance by the military opens up huge possibilities for privacy violations and for the targeting of any American who may be engaged in activity that the government deems dangerous in the present or the future, the ACLU said.
“Even in tests, they’re still collecting a lot of data on Americans: who’s driving to the union house, the church, the mosque, the Alzheimer’s clinic,” Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst for the organization, told The Guardian. “We should not go down the road of allowing this to be used in the United States and it’s disturbing to hear that these tests are being carried out, by the military no less.”
The military’s project is just the latest example of a massive surveillance infrastructure that the government is creating, sometimes with the help of powerful private companies, Greer told Common Dreams.
“From police partnerships with Amazon’s Ring doorbells to these privately contracted spying balloons,” she said, “a dystopian surveillance state is being built in plain sight, by government agencies with authoritarian dreams and corporations willing to trample our rights to turn a profit.”
This article was originally published by “Common Dreams”
Al-Qaida-linked group refuses to retreat in Syria’s de-militarized zone: The Nusra Front, the backbone of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) group, rejected to withdraw 20 km in depth of Idlib province in northwestern Syria as agreed upon by Turkey and Russia.
No One Is Safe: How Saudi Arabia Makes Dissidents Disappear: How Saudi Arabia attempts to abduct, repatriate—and sometimes murder—citizens it regards as enemies of the state.
Russia and Iran to train together “this year” as they fight back against U.S. policies: The head of Iran’s navy has said his forces planned to train alongside their Russian counterparts by the end of the year as both nations stepped up their rhetoric against U.S. policies targeting them.
Propaganda alert: Iran’s Foreign Minister Was Invited to Meet Trump in the Oval Office: “I think the Iranians will say no. And I think that will force the Europeans’ hands.”
Bought and paid for: Freshman Dems to arrive in Israel Monday on AIPAC trip : Names of those going on the trips are being held as a closely guarded secret . A Republican group is set to arrive on Friday, led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
In Afghanistan, Trump is already pushing genocidal policies: The US president may have just said he doesn’t want to kill ’10 million people’, but his policy in Afghanistan seems to say differently,
Fact or fiction? “Excellent progress” reported in U.S.-Taliban peace talks
Kashmir: Pakistan will ‘go to any extent’ to protect Kashmiris: Pledge follows announcement by India that it intends to revoke territory’s special status
Currency War Begins: Chinese Yuan Crashes to New Record Low: The gloves are off. China is firing the big guns now.
American farmer: Trump ‘took away all of our markets’: China was once a major U.S. agriculture buyer.
Trump promises more aid for farmers in 2020 ‘if necessary’ : Keeping farmers on his side is a crucial political goal for Trump, who is up for reelection next year and has shown no indication that he is willing to back off his fight with China.
Australia Won’t Host US Missile Site: Australian officials confirmed Monday that their country will not be used as a base for any planned U.S. mid-range missiles following talks with American officials in Sydney.
Chinese Troops in Hong Kong Keep Low Profile but Stand Ready; Recent PLA military drills are raising the possibility that Beijing might order troops to quell protests, although that move is widely seen as remote
Warsaw stops to remember the 1944 uprising: Poles commemorate Warsaw Uprising against Nazi occupation, when a city of over a million people was razed to the ground.
Watch: Guilty: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell: In Guilty: The Conviction of Cardinal Pell, ABC News Australia outlines the troubling saga of Pell, his many victims, and the plague that continues to fester from deep within the church.
Diabetic, 27, dies after taking cheaper insulin as he lost private health insurance: Campaigners call for intervention over diabetes drug prices in US as thousands forced to rely on less effective over-the-counter drugs
China Deals ‘Body Blow’ to Struggling U.S. Farm Belt: Farmers, agricultural groups decry retaliatory move to stop buying U.S. crops and livestock
SHARE THIS POST