Government surveillance of civilians is NOT something needed to protect our country from terrorists. It IS a clear indication of the tightening of control over the people that the government is ever working toward. It would be good for each one of us to start seriously thinking about why the government of a free nation is methodically working toward that end. To me the answer is clear.
Homeland Security’s specifications say drones must be able to detect whether a civilian is armed. Also specified: “signals interception” and “direction finding” for electronic surveillance.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has customized its Predator drones, originally built for overseas military operations, to carry out at-home surveillance tasks that have civil libertarians worried: identifying civilians carrying guns and tracking their cell phones, government documents show.
The documents provide more details about the surveillance capabilities of the department’s unmanned Predator B drones, which are primarily used to patrol the United States’ northern and southern borders but have been pressed into service on behalf of a growing number of law enforcement agencies including the FBI, the Secret Service, the Texas Rangers, and local police.
Homeland Security’s specifications for its drones, built by San Diego-based General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, say they “shall be capable of identifying a standing human being at night as likely armed or not,” meaning carrying a shotgun or rifle. They also specify “signals interception” technology that can capture communications in the frequency ranges used by mobile phones, and “direction finding” technology that can identify the locations of mobile devices or two-way radios.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center obtained a partially redacted copy of Homeland Security’s requirements for its drone fleet through the Freedom of Information Act and published it this week. CNET unearthed an unredacted copy of the requirements that provides additional information about the aircraft’s surveillance capabilities.
Homeland Security’s Predator B drone can stay aloft conducting surveillance for 20 hours.(Credit: U.S. Department of Homeland Security)
Concern about domestic use of drones is growing, with federal legislation introduced last month that would establish legal safeguards, in addition to parallel efforts underway from state and local lawmakers. The Federal Aviation Administration recently said that it will “address privacy-related data collection” by drones.
The prospect of identifying armed Americans concerns Second Amendment advocates, who say that technology billed as securing the United States’ land and maritime borders should not be used domestically. Michael Kostelnik, the Homeland Security official who created the program, told Congress that the drone fleet would be available to “respond to emergency missions across the country,” and a Predator drone was dispatched to the tiny town of Lakota, N.D., to aid local police in a dispute that began with reimbursement for feeding six cows. The defendant, arrested with the help of Predator surveillance, lost a preliminary bid to dismiss the charges.
“I am very concerned that this technology will be used against law-abiding American firearms owners,” says Alan Gottlieb, founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation. “This could violate Fourth Amendment rights as well as Second Amendment rights.”
Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency declined to answer questions about whether direction-finding technology is currently in use on its drone fleet. A representative provided CNET with a statement about the agency’s unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that said signals interception capability is not currently used: Read More…
The battle over our rights as American citizens protected by the Constitution of the United States against our government continues on a daily basis. Private surveillance systems to protect home, property, family, businesses, etc. is something we advocate to the fullest, obviously. That is why we sell those products, whether full systems or hidden cameras, we believe in them.
We do not believe in the government using Predator Drones (that can be armed in the blink of an eye with Hellfire missiles) to monitor law abiding citizens in the name of home land security. That is just bull, and should be of great concern to us all. I personally have no desire to see our nation go from free to a dictatorship.