A Closer Look at the Eyes in the Sky Unleashed by Congress-Drones

Kaye Beach

Feb 23, 2012

Great analysis by Privacy Revolt! Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Domestic Spy Drones Approved by Congress

 

. . .Congress has APPROVED two of these threats for widespread use: domestic spy drones, and what are called “super drones”. As we are now becoming aware, these drones do more than just kill innocent women and children around the world, but in fact, are perfect domestic spying devices too.

The “super drones” take it a step further, by actually knowing who you are, because, as reported by Wired magazine, the military has given out research grants to several companies to spruce up these drones with technology that lets them identify and track people on the move, or “tagging, tracking, and locating” (TTL).

But don’t take my word for it, there were three major stories on the topic last week, “Congress OKs FAA Bill allowing drones in US, GPS air traffic control“, “Bill authorizes Use of Unmanned Drones in US Airspace“, and “Drones over US get OK by Congress“.

Let’s go to the piece by the New American:

Big Brother is set to adopt a new form of surveillance after a bill passed by Congress will require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to open U.S. airspace to drone flights under a new four-year plan. The bill, which passed the House last week and received bipartisan approval in the Senate on Monday, will convert radar to an air traffic control system based on GPS technology, shifting the country to an age where satellites are central to air traffic control and unmanned drones glide freely throughout U.S. airspace.

By using GPS technology, congressional leaders argued, planes will land and take off more efficiently, as pilots will be able to pinpoint the locations of ground obstacles and nearby aircraft. The modernization procedures play into the FAA’s ambitious plan to achieve 50-percent growth in air traffic over the next 10 years. This legislation is “the best news that the airline industry ever had,” applauded Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.). “It will take us into a new era.”

Furthermore, privacy advocates worry that the bill will open the door to widespread use of drones for surveillance by law enforcement and, eventually, by the private sector. Some analysts predict that the commercial drone market in the U.S. could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars once the FAA authorizes their use, and that 30,000 drones could be flying domestically by 2020. “There are serious policy questions on the horizon about privacy and surveillance, by both government agencies and commercial entities,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights advocacy and legal group, also is “concerned about the implications for surveillance by government agencies,” affirmed attorney Jennifer Lynch, and it is “a huge push by lawmakers and the defense sector to expand the use of drones” in U.S. airspace.

“Congress – and to the extent possible, the FAA – need to impose some rules to protect Americans’ privacy from the inevitable invasions that this technology will otherwise lead to,” wrote American Civil Liberties Union policy analyst Jay Stanley. “We don’t want to wonder, every time we step out our front door, whether some eye in the sky is watching our every move.”

They also say that if they can get a close enough look, they can tell twins apart and reveal not only individuals’ identity but their social networks. But it gets even more spooky:

The Army also wants to identify potentially hostile behavior and intent, in order to uncover clandestine foes. Charles River Analytics is using its Army cash to build a so-called “Adversary Behavior Acquisition, Collection, Understanding, and Summarization (ABACUS)” tool. The system would integrate data from informants’ tips, drone footage, and captured phone calls. Then it would apply “a human behavior modeling and simulation engine” that would spit out “intent-based threat assessments of individuals and groups.” In other words: This software could potentially find out which people are most likely to harbor ill will toward the U.S. military or its objectives. Feeling nervous yet?

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