The Next Generation of Surveillance

By: David Heacock

This past week on PBS’ NOVA, the public was given an insight into what’s being called “The Next Generation of Surveillance.”  ARGUS-IS, or Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System, is an unmanned drone that wields a 1.8-gigapixel video camera that can distinguish objects as small as six inches from a 22,000 foot altitude. This high resolution makes ARGUS capable of viewing 15 square miles at one time, meaning it’s powerful enough to observe a medium-sized city.

While these technological advances are remarkable, they signal a great threat to our civil liberties and right to privacy. Using cameras for surveillance of private property can be an effective means to protect one’s freedoms; however, any mass surveillance of the population by the government should be treated with firm distrust. These sorts of surveillance measures are so often slipped through bills in ways that the general public is not even aware of, such as through the so-called “Patriot” Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. We need to make sure as many people as possible are contacting their Congressmen to let them know of their disfavor toward such infringements on the privacy of millions of Americans.

C4L is working with members of Congress to introduce legislation that would restrict the use of domestic drones for surveillance, and many of our state groups are fighting hard on this issue at the local level.

“Do we want to live in a country where our government constantly flies aircraft overhead to make sure we are not doing anything it disapproves of? Already the Environmental Protection Agency uses drone surveillance to spy on farmers and ranchers to see if they are in compliance with regulations. Local law enforcement agencies are eyeing drone use with great anticipation. Do we really want to live under the watchful eye of “Big Brother”? It is terrifying enough to see how drones are being misused abroad. We must curtail the government’s ability use drones right away lest the massacres in Yemen and Pakistan turn out to be crude training exercises for what the administration has in mind on our own soil.” – Dr. Ron Paul

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