“These programs are not about stopping violence, they’re about social control.”
Millions of Americans across the Midwest this summer are being subjected to surveillance from above as the Pentagon experiments with the use of surveillance radars attached to high-altitude balloons.
“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. We should not go down the road of allowing this to be used in the United States.”
—Jay Stanley, ACLU
As The Guardian reported Friday, the defense and aerospace contractor Sierra Nevada Corporation was authorized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to send up to 25 balloons across six states to track vehicles.
U.S. Southern Command commissioned the project for the stated purpose of creating a “persistence surveillance system” to deter drug traffickers and perceived “homeland security threats.”
Civil liberties advocates were distressed at the newly-reported project on Friday, which the Sierra Nevada Corporation obtained a license to begin on July 12 and end on September 1.
“The deployment of this kind of surveillance capability in the United States is incredibly alarming,” Mana Azarmi, policy counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, told Common Dreams. “Persistent government surveillance, such as that facilitated by this technology, raises many civil liberties concerns and should not be permitted in the absence of a warrant.”
“Mass surveillance doesn’t make us safer,” the digital rights group Fight for the Future tweeted.