All the buzz lately in privacy and anti-domestic-surveillance circles has been focused on drones in recent years. Surveillance drones are capable of collecting vast amounts of data on the activities of individual United States citizens, causing concern about Big Brother tracking the people everywhere we go. But drones have many drawbacks and cannot currently establish a wide net of surveillance affordably. Now, the government is testing a new weapon in their battle against privacy: balloons.
While drones have limitations on how long and how high they can stay in the air, solar-powered balloons have fewer restrictions. They can stay in the air at 65,000-feet collecting data for weeks or even months at a time, allowing the government and other interested parties like Alphabet (Google’s parent company) as well as foreign interest to keep tabs on everyone below.
The radar equipped on the latest batch of balloons is so powerful and accurate, one is capable of tracking every car or boat moving below them within 25 square miles. A handful of balloons working in unison, as they’re intended to do, can keep tabs on everyone’s movement within an entire city.
According to The Guardian, testing of this new technology has already been launched in the United States:
Arthur Holland Michel, the co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College in New York, said, “What this new technology proposes is to watch everything at once. Sometimes it’s referred to as ‘combat TiVo’ because 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.”
The tests have been commissioned by the US Southern Command (Southcom), which is responsible for disaster response, intelligence operations and security cooperation in the Caribbean and Central and South America. Southcom is a joint effort by the US army, navy, air force and other forces, and one of its key roles is identifying and intercepting drug shipments headed for the United States.
Too many technologies and military applications have been pushed forward in recent years under the premise of keeping Americans safe. But the cost of doing so should not equate to giving up our freedoms or breaching our privacy. Those who say this technology would never be used to oppress American citizens haven’t been paying enough attention lately. There’s a reason many cities are putting an end (temporarily) to law enforcement using facial recognition software. Imagine if the government could track everyone in a city all at once.
The better the government gets at tracking its citizens, the more likely it becomes that such technology will be used for nefarious reasons. Ignoring this as something that will never turn bad is a huge mistake too many Americans make.
We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.
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