August 5, 2019
The Pentagon has begun testing new and powerful mass surveillance balloons over six Midwest states. This is a major privacy threat, as these camera-outfitted mass-surveillance balloons can capture every moving vehicle across a wide area, from the stratosphere.
According to Quartz, such experimental devices are already being tested above six Midwest states as part of a Pentagon program, the Guardian reported, citing information found in Federal Communications Commission documents. The government is about to know even more about what you’re doing and for exactly how long you are doing it for, as they track all vehicle movement.
The project involves as many as 25 of the solar-powered balloons being launched from rural South Dakota, from where they eventually drift 250 miles (402 km) to central Illinois, in the meanwhile roaming above parts of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Missouri. The balloons can reach altitudes of 65,000 ft (19,812 m). The technology is meant to “provide a persistent surveillance system to locate and deter narcotic trafficking and homeland security threats,” according to the filing.
The FCC approved this testing to occur by the Sierra Nevada Corporation, an aerospace and defense company. The company will be testing the balloons from mid-July through September 1. And we know it isn’t about “narcotics trafficking.” It’s about control and mass surveillance.
Very few have warned about the idea that people should be monitored and tracked like cattle. But those who have cautioned that all kinds of data is more than likely being collected. Jay Stanley, an analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told the Guardian that 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.”
The unmanned balloons already flying over the Midwest appear to carry “satellite-like vehicles housing sophisticated sensors and communication gear,” the Guardian reported, making them able to share data amongst themselves and with ground receivers. One of the sensors “is a synthetic aperture radar intended to detect every car or boat in motion on a 25-mile swath beneath the balloon.
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