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Eye In The Sky: Baltimore Police Spy on Citizens Using Gulf War Surveillance Tech

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posted on Aug, 24 2016 @ 09:19 PM
Do you ever feel you are being spied upon?

It is common to hear about the way we are spied upon by corporations through our phones, and after the revelations of Snowden, it seems safe to assume that mass surveillance is a common tool of governments around the world.

This week it was revealed that citizens of Baltimore have been spied upon by the police using cameras in the sky.

If we are under aerial surveillance, is it safe to assume that those who should be responsible for law and order are also under surveillance?

Who watches the watchmen, and all that jazz?

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Since January, the city of Baltimore has been under intermittent surveillance from the sky, and the public was never told, according to a report out this week in Bloomberg Businessweek.

A small Cessna airplane equipped with cameras spent hours flying over the city, and feeding its footage back to huge hard drives, the report says.

According to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake this system is in place to make the city safer.

“The pilot program, funded by an anonymous donor, is cutting edge technology aimed at making Baltimore safer. My top priority, which I have continuously communicated to Commissioner Davis, has been to keep our city safe. His team sought opportunities to find new technology that works hand in hand with our robust Citiwatch program. This technology is about public safety. This isn’t surveilling or tracking anyone. It’s about catching those who choose to do harm to citizens in our city.”

“This is a 21st century investigative tool used to assist investigators in solving crimes. The wide area imagery system allows for the capability of seeing 32 square miles. This, effectively, is a mobile CitiWatch camera. What we gain with this is size, so we see a larger area than we would see with a CitiWatch camera, but what we lose is the clarity that we get from a CitiWatch camera, which is on the ground.”

So it seems it's the usual mantra if you're not doing anything wrong you have nothing to fear.

The article at goes into a lot of detail about this program and is well worth a read. It also poses the question that in a city under surveillance, why is it that in the case of a police murder there is no video evidence of the ride where Freddie Gray was murdered.

Finally, who is this mysterious anonymous donor?

The sky over the Circuit Court for Baltimore City on June 23 was the color of a dull nickel, and a broad deck of lowering clouds threatened rain. A couple dozen people with signs—“Justice 4 Freddie Gray” and “The whole damn system is guilty as hell”—lingered by the corner of the courthouse, watching the network TV crews rehearse their standups. Sheriff’s officers in bulletproof vests clustered around the building’s doors, gripping clubs with both hands.

Inside, a judge was delivering the verdict in the case of Caesar Goodson, the only Baltimore police officer facing a murder charge for the death of Freddie Gray. In April 2015, Gray’s neck was broken in the back of a police van, and prosecutors had argued that Goodson purposefully drove the vehicle recklessly, careening through the city, to toss Gray around.

This statement is very telling.

“This whole city is under a siege of cameras,” said Pritchett, a house painter who helps run a youth center in a low-income, high-crime neighborhood called Johnston Square. “In fact, they observed Freddie Gray himself the morning of his arrest on those cameras, before they picked him up. They could have watched that van, too, but no—they missed that one. I thought the cameras were supposed to protect us. But I’m thinking they’re there to just contradict anything that might be used against the City of Baltimore. Do they use them for justice? Evidently not.”

I recommend reading the Bloomberg article in full. It is both illuminating, and chilling at the same time.

Why then does it seem the police do not suffer the same surveillance the rest of us do? Does the data secretly exist on some hard drive, or has it been redacted? Something the citizens may never find out.
edit on 24-8-2016 by cuckooold because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 24 2016 @ 09:39 PM
I read this earlier and boy oh boy this is a slippery slope. I live in South Florida and in the last 3 years they have built on the 2 major North /South highways video camera's EVERY MILE. I get the possible need for camera's for traffic purposes nearing exits and entrances but literally every single mile on most stretches of I-95 and the Turnpike you will find large polls with camera's on each. This isn't about traffic it is about surveillance.

Depending on who is elected I give it 2 years before drones with camera setups like on the Cessna's are autonomously flying over all major cities.

Scary time for sure!

posted on Aug, 24 2016 @ 10:40 PM
Cessnas? They got better than that. Surveillance balloons developed in Afghanistan are watching over US cities now...

Bunch of links
edit on 24-8-2016 by intrptr because: spelling

posted on Aug, 25 2016 @ 03:37 AM
The best part is - Criminals can use this a lot more effectively than government. Watch_dogs and all that. within the next 5 years, hackers will own the world - if they don't already.

posted on Sep, 15 2016 @ 02:40 AM
Building the infrastructure for mass surveillance is my theory as to why so many tech companies don't seem to care if people actually like their products or not. Such is the never-ending quest for more CPU power (cores or whatever) and more megapixels in cameras where several megapixels is plenty if it's a quality camera.

And then you have stuff like facial and gesture recognition and so forth. All of these things can be cool in consumer goods but most of them are also very useful technologies to build hi-tech surveillance into everything.

Where do you need a zillion megapixel camera? Well, it would be a fun toy to play with until you realize the color and contrast and exposure and so forth isn't really all that great. It could have awesome power as a literal "eye in the sky" however. Because more megapixels means more digital zoom. Which means you can take a whole bunch of wide angle pictures and cram them into storage and you can zoom in on anything you want later. You can't do that very well without a lot of megapixels.

This thought occurred to me one lovely day when I saw my living room on Google Earth. I've never seen a Google car drive by my window but apparently it has happened at least a few times (as the years have gone by). It just never really occurred to me that if I didn't want a Google drone car taking pictures of my living room, I should close my shades. Which will work find until they start equipping them with cameras that can see through walls, I guess.

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