I’m sure this will get it’s requisite 5 minutes on the evening news, right before the critical update on Desperate Housewives, and then disappear from the headlines, but it shouldn’t. Michael Kostelnik, assistant commissioner at Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection Bureau, told the House Transportation subcommittee on Wednesday that:
“We need additional technology to supplement manned aircraft surveillance and current ground assets to ensure more effective monitoring of United States territory.”
Excuse me? Did a government official just ask the House of Representatives to allow Homeland Security to spy on Americans? How could that possibly be abused?
In a scene that could have been inspired by the movie “Minority Report,” one North Carolina county is using a UAV equipped with low-light and infrared cameras to keep watch on its citizens. The aircraft has been dispatched to monitor gatherings of motorcycle riders at the Gaston County fairgrounds from just a few hundred feet in the air–close enough to identify faces–and many more uses, such as the aerial detection of marijuana fields, are planned.
Wait, what did the motorcycle riders do that warranted surveillance? Was a crime being committed? Had anyone threatened to commit a crime? Is riding a motorcycle now probable cause to have you activities monitored by law enforcement?
This is very, very dangerous territory. Allowing routine flyovers of whatever patch of ground a law enforcement agency wants to watch is basically a blank check to watch anyone in the America, with no warrant. That means they can watch you in your back yard just because. Own a gun? I bet the cops would be very interested in you if you started shooting with a group of friends in a field. Got illegal fireworks? There might be a drone circling on the 4th of July.
Read 1984 and tell me you aren’t the least bit concerned about this kind of news story.