In a secret test of mass surveillance technology, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department sent a civilian aircraft* over Compton, California, capturing high-resolution video of everything that happened inside that 10-square-mile municipality.
Compton residents weren’t told about the spying, which happened in 2012. “We literally watched all of Compton during the times that we were flying, so we could zoom in anywhere within the city of Compton and follow cars and see people,” Ross McNutt of Persistence Surveillance Systems told the Center for Investigative Reporting, which unearthed and did the first reporting on this important story. The technology he’s trying to sell to police departments all over America can stay aloft for up to six hours. Like Google Earth, it enables police to zoom in on certain areas. And like TiVo, it permits them to rewind, so that they can look back and see what happened anywhere they weren’t watching in real time.
Friedersdorf says: that’s a firing.
Sgt. Douglas Iketani acknowledges that his agency hid the experiment to avoid public opposition. “This system was kind of kept confidential from everybody in the public,”he said. “A lot of people do have a problem with the eye in the sky, the Big Brother, so to mitigate those kinds of complaints we basically kept it pretty hush hush.” That attitude ought to get a public employee summarily terminated.
Summarily terminated, you say? OK. Let’s work with that logic for a moment.
There is undoubtedly some loss of privacy when a camera is able to record and play back all of your public movements. I think there’s a greater loss of privacy when the federal government can read my email. After all, a person’s movements in public are still public. You can be surveilled while you’re in public. While one does not expect to have all those movements tracked by technology, one still recognizes that the actions are public. By contrast, most people still think of their email as private.
But a lot of people do have a problem with their email being read — the Big Brother thing, you know — so to mitigate those kind of complaints, Barack Obama basically kept it pretty hush hush.
Should that get Obama summarily terminated?
Is Friedersdorf calling for the impeachment of Barack Obama?