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To Stop Totalitarianism, We Must Understand How It Weaponizes Loneliness


BY: STELLA MORABITO | OCTOBER 12, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/10/12/to-stop-totalitarianism-we-must-understand-how-it-weaponizes-loneliness/

Weaponization of Loneliness
Victory in the war against tyranny depends more than anything else on understanding how imposed loneliness works on our psyches.

Author Stella Morabito profile

STELLA MORABITO

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The following is an excerpt from the author’s new book, “The Weaponization of Loneliness: How Tyrants Stoke Our Terror of Isolation to Silence, Divide, and Conquer.” (Bombardier Books, Post Hill Press.)

Revolutionary elites who push utopias are always a small minority. In order to get all of society on board, they must enlist mobs to promote the illusion of compliance with their visions. Mobs enforce the narrative, often through violence. They help censor any competing views through intimidation and various forms of book burning.

We ought to study how radical utopian revolutions got a foothold in the past in order to better understand the 21st-century incarnation. Mob action was a major catalyst for the French Revolution, accelerating Maximilien Robespierre’s brutal dechristianization campaign and Jacobin revisions of history. Private life came under direct attack after Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution. Those attacks reached terrifying new heights during Stalin’s Reign of Terror.

Identity politics and pseudoscience played out to a gruesome degree during Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich, causing intense hostilities in the society. And American immigrants from communist China can recall the cruel legacy of mob-led struggle sessions during Chairman Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution. Some have publicly expressed alarm at seeing similar dynamics develop in their adopted homeland.

But many who sense the brewing of a totalitarian revolution in the 21st century are puzzled because it doesn’t appear to have a central operator. Yes, there remain many dictators on the world stage, as always. But there is no single figure like Hitler, Lenin, Mao, Robespierre, or even Oliver Cromwell, who has been at the center driving all the changes. There has been no single nation-state leading the charge. No specific revolutionary party. No one corporation giving directives to all.

Rather, it all seems more hydra-headed, coming from all directions and from many different sources with seemingly different interests. Indeed, Big Tech selectively bans political speech on social media platforms like Facebook. Twitter even suspended the account of a sitting U.S. president. Big Media is a mammoth propaganda operation with little actual news reported. Financial institutions became more apt to regulate the donations of their customers, some eager to freeze bank accounts of citizens they deem politically incorrect.

Then there’s the World Economic Forum, whose founder Klaus Schwab has incessantly spoken and written about a “Great Reset,” which would lead to a more centrally controlled social order of the entire world. Over the years Schwab groomed a coterie of young leaders, including Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister of France Emanuel Macron, who cooperate to establish such an order.

The 2020s also opened with more federal judges blatantly legislating from the bench, more military officers requiring recruits to be indoctrinated in woke ideologies, medical organizations promoting vaccine mandates, and more pediatricians endorsing hormone regimens and genital surgeries on children without parental consent. Meanwhile, academia continued its war on freedom of expression, and K–12 educrats grew increasingly hostile to the parents of the children they supposedly teach.

People felt gut-punched by so many unexpected invasions of privacy and attacks against free speech in a nation trusted to protect it. How did so much sudden disregard for due process arise, so little regard for reason and reality? And from so many different places?

It’s All Tied Together by the Machinery of Loneliness

Although all these developments have come at us from different directions, they have a machinery in common. The common denominator of such revolutions past, present, and future is the weaponization of loneliness. All its features pit people against one another. All were at work in various ways in past revolutions of modern history. And all result in our further atomization, our further separation from one another.

The most critical features are the forces of identity politics, political correctness, and mobs. Identity politics is clearly meant to divide us into hostile groups, such as oppressor and victim, based on race or sex or any other demographic grouping. Political correctness induces us to self-censor, which means we drive ourselves into further isolation by limiting our exchanges with others to avoid the risk of social rejection. Mobs then serve as agitation forces that push propaganda into action. They intimidate others into silence and compliance and finally can cause any agenda—no matter how fringy—to become policy.

Another way to think about the machinery is as a combustion engine that can’t operate without ignited fuel. The fuel is our conformity impulse, and the spark is our fear. Without them, the machinery of loneliness simply can’t operate. So if we cannot shake off our conformity impulse and fear of isolation, we will remain self-silenced, isolated, and obedient to the mob. We will end up lonelier, more exhausted, and conditioned to repeat the cycle.

There Is Hope

The good news is that there is a wealth of neglected research on these matters of social psychology. We need to make that research common knowledge by discussing it often. In the 1950s, psychologist Solomon Asch conducted experiments on the conformity impulse. Later, Asch’s student Stanley Milgram studied the pattern of obedience to malevolent authorities.

In 1960, acclaimed Nobel laureate Elias Canetti produced his classic study on the behavior of mobs, “Crowds and Power.” In 1957, Vance Packard published his explosive bestseller “The Hidden Persuaders,” which explored the uses of depth psychology by advertisers to manipulate people’s desires and fears.

Eminent psychiatrists like Margaret Thaler Singer and Robert Jay Lifton investigated the practice of coercive thought reform. Singer analyzed cult dynamics that led nearly a thousand people in Jonestown, Guyana, to commit “revolutionary suicide” at the order of Jim Jones in 1978. The term “Stockholm syndrome” had already come into circulation to describe the phenomenon of captives bonding with their captors.

Even earlier, however, scholars were reflecting on the dynamics of mobs, including Gustave LeBon, who in 1895 published “The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind.” And early in the 20th century, Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci theorized that the power of culture, especially as expressed through modern communications, shaped social attitudes far more effectively than any appeal to economic interests.

In the 1930s, the neo-Marxists of the Frankfurt School accepted and applied Gramsci’s theory. We can see it in today’s aggressive media campaigns, the shift to “social justice” action in academia, and Big Tech’s censorship of dissenting views.

The key ingredient of groupthink has always been the fear of social isolation, which leads us to be swept up by propaganda. It’s a fear so pervasive that—like fish in water—we are rarely aware of the effect it has on us.

We can see how this phenomenon worked in totalitarian societies like Stalin’s Soviet Union or Nazi Germany, where people betrayed neighbors and even family members to avoid becoming “nonpersons” in society. The great irony here is that by breaking bonds of family and friendship, people only dig themselves in deeper. They cement their dependency on the state while also helping the state destroy the private sphere of life, which is their only path to escape and resistance.

Hence, totalitarians have always targeted the private sphere of life for destruction. The rallying cry “Abolish the family!” comes straight from “The Communist Manifesto.” Nothing could be more alienating to a human being than to be deprived of healthy familial bonds. The ramifications are vast because strong communities depend upon strong families.

Tyrannical systems also seek to abolish traditional religions and the fellowship of the faithful. Opportunities for such societal breakdown today have accelerated as never before. In the extremist reaction against the Dobbs decision, we saw how state and corporate actors supported by media propaganda can promote an antifamily ethos that produces atomization.

How Tech Tears Us Apart

The machinery of loneliness is running in high gear due to the revolution in communications technologies. This revolution handed us each a “device” that draws us into the web of the internet, often in literally hypnotic fashion. The seduction is so powerful that one can reasonably ask if the endgame is a vast hive mind.

The technological media constantly distract us, prod us, probe us, and flood us with suggestions. We each end up knowing a whole lot less about a whole lot more. At the same time, we become increasingly disconnected from real life among our flesh-and-blood brethren.

Communications professor Marshall McLuhan famously warned in 1964 that electronic media acts within each of us as an extension of our central nervous system. We may think we are gleaning the medium for content, but any content is incidental to the real message. The real message, he insisted, is in the medium itself, which rewires us neurologically. As we allow our devices to pull us into the cyberworld, we become isolated by detaching ourselves from the real world.

When we delve into the internet or connect to our devices, we are not consumers. Rather, we are products—raw material for advertisers— as we let the whole world know what we like and what we don’t like, who we know, where we are located, our habits, our dreams, our desires.

We may offer such data in a quest to be connected with others. But we don’t realize how that information is also pure gold for developers of artificial intelligence who can use it to develop algorithms that predict and modify our behaviors, and even program behaviors into us that actually isolate us further. No medieval wizard or alchemist could have imagined such a boon for his designs or such an infrastructure to empower him.

People are now more easily separated through social pressures that involve shunning and vilification, often magnified through propaganda that is exponentially amplified through Big Tech and Big Media. In the meantime, all these drivers of social decay result in institutional decay, which further contributes to a dangerous state of atomization. The subversion of education is key because education is upstream from all the other institutions, including our legislatures, courts, media, the arts, the corporate world, finance, medicine, and even the military.

Once that “march through the institutions” is complete, then the primordial institutions that shelter our private lives—family, faith, and community—are set to come under direct attack. So if our isolation continues unchecked, it easily becomes a tool to dismantle freedom, no matter the intentions of those who act to dismantle it. Nothing is left but the vast mass state directing the lives of individuals, all virtually separated from one another.

Victory in the war against tyranny depends more than anything else on understanding how imposed loneliness works on our psyches and how it is an indispensable tool of totalitarianism. Once comprehended, we can begin to neutralize its effects and defend ourselves against its inherent machinery.


Stella Morabito is a senior contributor at The Federalist. She is author of “The Weaponization of Loneliness: How Tyrants Stoke Our Fear of Isolation to Silence, Divide, and Conquer.” Her essays have appeared in various publications, including the Washington Examiner, American Greatness, Townhall, Public Discourse, and The Human Life Review. In her previous work as an intelligence analyst, Morabito focused on various aspects of Russian and Soviet politics, including communist media and propaganda. Follow Stella on Twitter.

Vaccine Microchip Developer: There’s No Stopping This Technology ‘Whether We Like It or Not’


Reported By Jack Davis | January 3, 2022

Read more at https://www.westernjournal.com/vaccine-microchip-developer-no-stopping-technology-whether-like-not/

A technology company that markets microchips believes that its invention is just the thing to serve as a way to document a person’s coronavirus vaccination status.

The Swedish startup DSruptive Subdermals is touting its microchip, which measures 2 millimeters by 16 millimeters and is injected under the skin, according to the Express.

Hannes Sjoblad, managing director of the company, said critics of the technology fail to understand that it can be put to good use.Advertisement – story continues below

“This technology exists and is used whether we like it or not,” he said. “I am happy that it is brought into the public conversation.”

“New technologies must be broadly debated and understood. Smart implants are a powerful health technology,” Sjoblad said.

GO TO https://www.westernjournal.com/vaccine-microchip-developer-no-stopping-technology-whether-like-not/ IN ORDER TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE.

After Using Her, Feinstein Actually Threw Ford Under the Bus with Jaw-Dropping Accusation


Reported By Cillian Zeal | September 28, 2018 at

11:49am

If you had the stout constitution to sit through every moment of the Kavanaugh/Ford hearings Thursday, I’m both envious and curious. The envy stems from the fact that you could watch a room of craven politicians preen for the camera and donor-email clips and not lose interest. The curiosity stems from the fact that I get paid to do it, while most of our readership does not.

If you waited until the end, however, you got to glimpse the guiding spirit of the whole affair — or what a certain anonymous Op-Ed writer might have called the “lodestar” that directed the proceedings — in a line from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

After being accused of leaking the letter that set this whole thing rolling, the California senator denied either she or her staff released it. Instead, she blamed the leak on a woman who was now utterly disposable to her — Christine Blasey Ford.

The exchange began after Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz questioned the leaking of the letter, which had been passed on to Sen. Feinstein.

“We also know that the Democrats on this committee engaged in a profoundly unfair process,” Cruz said.

“The ranking member had these allegations on July 30th and for sixty days, that was sixty days ago, the ranking member did not refer it to the FBI for investigation, the ranking member did not refer it to the full committee for an investigation.

“This committee could have investigated those claims in a confidential way that respected Dr. Ford’s privacy,” Cruz continued.

“Dr. Ford told this committee that the only people to whom she gave her letter, were her attorneys, the ranking member, and her member of Congress.

“And she stated that she and her attorneys did not release the letter, which means the only people who could have released the letter were either the ranking member (Sen. Feinstein) and her staff, or the Democratic member of Congress, because Dr. Ford told this committee those are the only people who had it.

“That is not a fair process,” Cruz said.

There were two options for Sen. Feinstein in this situation: a) apologize or b) deny. If she chose option b), however, there wasn’t the obligation to take path c): throw Christine Blasey Ford under an entire Greyhound station of buses.

That’s what she decided to do, however.

“Mr. Chairman, let me be clear, I did not hide Dr. Ford’s allegations. I did not leak her story, she asked me to keep it confidential and I kept if confidential as she asked,” Feinstein said in response.

“She apparently was stalked by the press, felt that what happened, she was forced to come forward, and her greatest fear was realized,”Feinstein continued.

“She’s been harassed, she’s had death threats, and she’s had to flee her home.”

After blaming the Republicans for their investigation, which she called “a partisan practice,” she continued to talk up the possible imperilment Ford was in.

“I was given some information by a woman who was very much afraid, who asked that it be held confidential, and I held it confidential until she decided that she would come forward,” Feinstein said.

She was then asked if her staff had leaked the letter by Sen. John Cornyn, another Texas Republican.

“I have not asked that question directly, but I do not believe — the answer is no,” Feinstein responded. “The staff, they did not.”

“Well, somebody leaked it if wasn’t you,” Cornyn said.

“I did not, I was asked to keep it confidential, and I’m criticized for that too!” she said.

“It’s my understanding that her story was leaked before the letter became public, and she testified that she had spoken to her friends about it and it’s most likely that that’s how the story leaked, and she had been asked by press.

“But it did not leak from us,” Feinstein concluded. “I assure you of that.”

Yes, the letter leaked because this woman, who thought she was in grave jeopardy, leaked the whole thing to the press by telling her friends, who were willing to put her in that grave jeopardy by passing it on.

It had nothing — nothing — to do with the Democrats who would have benefited most from this and would have had the motivation to pass it on.

Right.

Every single problem with this entire process can be, in some way, traced back to Dianne Feinstein. She’s the one who sat on the letter, refusing to bring it up when it should have been addressed. She’s the one whose cryptic statements helped stoke the embers of curiosity. She’s the one who would call for an FBI investigation even though the FBI added the letter to Kavanaugh’s background file and moved on. She’s the one who helped oversee the circus we witnessed Thursday.

And, once Christine Blasey Ford was finally disposable to her, she was tossed to the tigers as an encore.

Judge Erases Right to Privacy, Rules Schoolgirls Must Share Bathroom with Males


Reported By Bryan Chai | August 7, 2018 at 2:32pm

An Oregon judge has ruled that “transgender girls,” or biological boys who dress like girls, can continue to use girls restrooms and locker rooms in the state’s public schools, according to LifeSiteNews.

Perhaps most alarming are the comments that U.S. District Judge Marco Hernandez made — and their potential implications.

“High school students do not have a fundamental privacy right to not share school restrooms, lockers, and showers with transgender students whose biological sex is different than theirs,”Hernandez wrote.

Human beings, whether or not they’re public high school students, “do not have a fundamental privacy right”? What?

Perhaps public or political figures need some aspects of their lives open to public inspection, since character matters in those situations. But the lives of children, and what goes in on a bathroom, are inherently private.

Conservative children’s advocates were outraged by the decision.

“(This ruling) reveals everything people need to know to understand the utter corruption of our court system,” Julie Quist, board chairwoman of the Child Protection League, told LifeSiteNews.

Quist slammed the political nature of the debate and how children were being used as pawns to further liberal agendas.

“Decency and respect for our children…are being cast aside for the political advantage of a militant political force that is systematically violating the innocence, dignity and freedom of our children and all of us,”she said.

Quist also urged parents to take a proactive approach.

“This ruling, and others like it, is a hostile takeover,”Quist added. “CPL urges parents to immediately begin to take steps to remove their children from any public schools where this policy is being enforced, and to take seriously a new burden of their responsibility of citizenship to throw out all incumbent elected officials everywhere who will not fight for them. If we love our children, it’s that important.”

The lawsuit originated in Dallas, Oregon, when a “trangender boy”(that is, a girl who wanted to dress like a boy) didn’t want to change in a gender-neutral bathroom, but rather in the boys locker room.

That started a policy that allowed students to choose whatever bathroom or locker room suited their individual sex, but, according to The Associated Press, parents were upset that that caused “embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety, intimidation, fear, apprehension, and stress produced by using the restroom with students of the opposite sex.”

The issue over bathroom usage echoes the ongoing debate over transgender roles in sports.

Yes, trangenders are human beings — even if some experts in the field considers their condition a sign of mental illness. In America, that means they should are afforded a certain level of decency and basic human rights.

But at what cost?

I can commiserate with a confused and scared high schooler, as most people can. But should a certain group of people be afforded rights at the expense of others?

According to Judge Hernandez, apparently so.

And that’s not going to sit well with lots of Americans.

 

White House: Migrants’ Privacy Trump Americans’ Right To Know [VIDEO]


National Day of Protest with dateAmerica the movie with hyperlink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neil Munro

White House Correspondent

 

 

obama-border-is-open-378x257The White House won’t reveal where it is housing thousands of Central American juvenile migrants because their privacy rights trump Americans’ right to know what‘s happening in their neighborhoods, press secretary Josh Earnest declared July 16.

“The public does have a right to know what’s happening… [but] at the same time, there are privacy rights that are included in the law that this administration is committed to enforcing and following,” Earnest told Ed Henry, Fox News’ White House correspondent.

“We are not surprised in the least to see the Obama administration imitate the smugglers,” William Gheen, founder of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, told The Daily Caller. “This is how smuggling operations work, this is what the smuggler-in-chief wants — secret planes and secret buses full of illegal immigrants.”

obama- Marxist tyrantGOP governors and legislators are also highlighting the administration’s secrecy. “They don’t want the public to know what is really going on,” Nebraska Republican Rep. Lee Terry told Fox News.

Terry has introduced a bill that would require federal disclosure of details about housing. However, Senate Democrats will likely block the bill if it is passed by the House.

For months, the federal government has hidden details about the inflow of migrants, such as the number of people arriving in “family units,” the number of migrants who have been allowed to seek residency via the immigration courts, and their education levels.

no right

Officials have revealed that 57,000 Central American juvenile migrants have crossed the border since last October. Another 30,000 crossed in 2011 and 2012. Officials also expect up to 150,000 additional migrants to arrive in “family units.”

Most of the public blames Obama for the breakdown of border security and oppose his immigration policies.

Many Americans want the immigrants sent home and few want the foreign juveniles living in their community. For example, Pew reported July 16 that 53 percent of respondents in a poll want the juvenile migrants quickly sent home. Only 39 percent of respondents said the current policy should be followed.

Communities in California, Massachusetts, Virginia and Maryland, for example, have already blocked administration plans to house juveniles in their neighborhoods.

Protests in Murrieta, Calif. successfully blocked a convoy of three buses carrying a group of migrant adults and their children.

This weekend, a series of protests are being arranged by several groups, including the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.

So far, the groups’ volunteers have arranged 300 street protests, said Gheen. “It is going viral, and we’re trying to add more events as rapidly asNational Day of Protest with date possible,” he told TheDC.

When asked how many people will turn out, he responded “we have no idea.”

Most of the border-crossing juveniles are temporarily housed by the Department of Health and Human Services before they are released to parents or relatives living in the United States.

The juveniles — few of whom speak English, and some of whom speak only Indian languages — are entitled to federal medical care, and to attend local schools, regardless of their impact on American kids.

They migrants come from countries with very high crime rates, partly because many youths are members of drug gangs, such as MS-13.

Progressives are bitterly criticizing the immigration protests.

“In places like Murrieta, California and Vassar, Michigan, we have seen ugly reminders of racism and hatred directed toward children,” said a July 15 statement by Richard Trumka, the pro-immigration head of the AFL-CIO union group.

“The spewing of nativist venom, the taking up of arms and the fear-mongering about crime and disease harken back to dark periods in our history and have no business taking place under the banner of our flag,” said Trumka.

get over it

Immigration-PiperSo far, progressives have not established groups of volunteers to house the migrants in their own homes.

Imperial President Obama

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Article collective closing

 

New surveillance technology can track everyone in an area for several hours at a time


While I understand the benefits covered in this article, I can also see it’s abuse in the hands of Socialist/Marxist/Collectivist. What to do? What to do? – Jerry Broussard

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/new-surveillance-technology-can-track-everyone-in-an-area-for-several-hours-at-a-time/2014/02/05/82f1556e-876f-11e3-a5bd-844629433ba3_print.html

By  , Published: February 5

DAYTON, Ohio — Shooter and victim were just a pair of pixels, dark specks on a gray streetscape. Hair color, bullet wounds, even the weapon were not visible in the series of pictures taken from an airplane flying two miles above.

But what the images revealed — to a degree impossible just a few years ago — was location, mapped over time. Second by second, they showed a gang assembling, blocking off access points, sending the shooter to meet his target and taking flight after the body hit the pavement. When the report reached police, it included a picture of the blue stucco building into which the killer ultimately retreated, at last beyond the view of the powerful camera overhead.

“I’ve witnessed 34 of these,” said Ross McNutt, the genial president of Persistent Surveillance Systems, which collected the images of the killing in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, from a specially outfitted Cessna. “It’s like opening up a murder mystery in the middle, and you need to figure out what happened before and after.”

As Americans have grown increasingly comfortable with traditional surveillance cameras, a new, far more powerful generation is being quietly deployed that can track every vehicle and person across an area the size of a small city, for several hours at a time. Although these cameras can’t read license plates or see faces, they provide such a wealth of data that police, businesses and even private individuals can use them to help identify people and track their movements.

Already, the cameras have been flown above major public events such as the Ohio political rally where Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) named Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008, McNutt said. They’ve been flown above Baltimore; Philadelphia; Compton, Calif.; and Dayton in demonstrations for police. They’ve also been used for traffic impact studies, for security at NASCAR races and at the request of a Mexican politician, who commissioned the flights over Ciudad Juárez.

Video: A time machine for police, letting them watch criminals — and everyone else.

Defense contractors are developing similar technology for the military, but its potential for civilian use is raising novel civil liberties concerns. In Dayton, where Persistent Surveillance Systems is based, city officials balked last year when police considered paying for 200 hours of flights, in part because of privacy complaints.

“There are an infinite number of surveillance technologies that would help solve crimes . . . but there are reasons that we don’t do those things, or shouldn’t be doing those things,” said Joel Pruce, a University of Dayton postdoctoral fellow in human rights who opposed the plan. “You know where there’s a lot less crime? There’s a lot less crime in China.”

The Supreme Court generally has given wide latitude to police using aerial surveillance as long as the photography captures images visible to the naked eye.

McNutt, a retired Air Force officer who once helped design a similar system for the skies above Fallujah, a battleground city in Iraq, hopes to win over officials in Dayton and elsewhere by convincing them that cameras mounted on fixed-wing aircraft can provide far more useful intelligence than police helicopters do, for less money.

A single camera mounted atop the Washington Monument, McNutt boasts, could deter crime all around the Mall. He said regular flights over the most dangerous parts of Washington — combined with publicity about how much police could see — would make a significant dent in the number of burglaries, robberies and murders. His 192-megapixel cameras would spot as many as 50 crimes per six-hour flight, he estimated, providing police with a continuous stream of images covering more than a third of the city.

“We watch 25 square miles, so you see lots of crimes,” he said. “And by the way, after people commit crimes, they drive like idiots.”

What McNutt is trying to sell is not merely the latest techno-wizardry for police. He envisions such steep drops in crime that they will bring substantial side effects, including rising property values, better schools, increased development and, eventually, lower incarceration rates as the reality of long-term overhead surveillance deters those tempted to commit crimes.

Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl, a supporter of McNutt’s efforts, has proposed inviting the public to visit the operations center to get a glimpse of the technology in action.

“I want them to be worried that we’re watching,” Biehl said. “I want them to be worried that they never know when we’re overhead.”

Technology in action

McNutt, a suburban father of four with a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is not deaf to concerns about his company’s ambitions. Unlike many of the giant defense contractors that are eagerly repurposing wartime surveillance technology for domestic use, he sought advice from the American Civil Liberties Union in writing a privacy policy.

It has rules on how long data can be kept, when images can be accessed and by whom. Police are supposed to begin looking at the pictures only after a crime has been reported. Fishing expeditions are prohibited.

The technology has inherent limitations as well. From the airborne cameras, each person appears as a single pixel indistinguishable from any other person. What people are doing — even whether they are clothed or not — is impossible to see. As technology improves the cameras, McNutt said he intends to increase their range, not the precision of the imagery, so that larger areas can be monitored.

The notion that McNutt and his roughly 40 employees are peeping Toms clearly rankles. The company made a PowerPoint presentation for the ACLU that includes pictures taken to assist the response to Hurricane Sandy and the severe Iowa floods last summer. The section is titled: “Good People Doing Good Things.”

“We get a little frustrated when people get so worried about us seeing them in their backyard,” McNutt said in his operation center, where the walls are adorned with 120-inch monitors, each showing a different grainy urban scene collected from above. “We can’t even see what they are doing in their backyard. And, by the way, we don’t care.”

Yet in a world of increasingly pervasive surveillance, location and identity are becoming all but inextricable. One quickly leads to the other for those with the right tools.

During one of the company’s demonstration flights over Dayton in 2012, police got reports of an attempted robbery at a bookstore and shots fired at a Subway sandwich shop. The cameras revealed a single car moving between the two locations.

By reviewing the images frame by frame, analysts were able to help police piece together a larger story: A man had left a residential neighborhood at midday and attempted to rob the bookstore, but fled when somebody hit an alarm. Then he drove to Subway, where the owner pulled a gun and chased him off. His next stop was a Family Dollar Store, where the man paused for several minutes. He soon returned home, after a short stop at a gas station where a video camera captured an image of his face.

A few hours later, after the surveillance flight ended, the Family Dollar Store was robbed. Police used the detailed map of the man’s movements, along with other evidence from the crime scenes, to arrest him for all three crimes.

On another occasion, Dayton police got a report of a burglary in progress. The aerial cameras spotted a white truck driving away from the scene. Police stopped the driver before he got home and found the stolen goods in the back of the truck. A witness identified him soon afterward.

Privacy concerns

In addition to normal cameras, the planes can carry infrared sensors that permit analysts to track people, vehicles or wildlife at night — even through foliage and into some structures, such as tents.

Courts have put stricter limits on technology that can see things not visible to the naked eye, ruling that they can amount to unconstitutional searches when conducted without a warrant. But the lines remain fuzzy as courts struggle to apply old precedents — from a single overflight carrying an officer equipped with nothing stronger than a telephoto lens, for example — to the rapidly advancing technology.

“If you turn your country into a totalitarian surveillance state, there’s always some wrongdoing you can prevent,” said Jay Stanley, a privacy expert with the American Civil Liberties Union. “The balance struck in our Constitution tilts toward liberty, and I think we should keep that value.”

Police and private businesses have invested heavily in video surveillance since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Although academics debate whether these cameras create significantly lower crime rates, an overwhelming majority of Americans support them. A Washington Post poll in November found that only 14 percent of those surveyed wanted fewer cameras in public spaces.

But the latest camera systems raise new issues because of their ability to watch vast areas for long periods of time — something even military-grade aerial cameras have struggled to do well.

The military’s most advanced experimental research lab is developing a system that uses hundreds of cellphone cameras to watch 36-square-mile areas. McNutt offers his system — which uses 12 commercially available Canon cameras mounted in an array — as an effective alternative that’s cheap enough for local police departments to afford. He typically charges between $1,500 and $2,000 per hour for his services, including flight time, operation of the command center and the time that analysts spend assisting investigations.

Dayton police were enticed by McNutt’s offer to fly 200 hours over the city for a home-town discount price of $120,000. The city, with about 140,000 people, saw its police force dwindle from more than 400 officers to about 350 in recent years, and there is little hope of reinforcements.

“We’re not going to get those officers back,” Biehl, the police chief, said. “We have had to use technology as force multipliers.”

Still, the proposed contract, coming during Dayton’s campaign season and amid a wave of revelations about National Security Agency surveillance, sparked resistance. Biehl is looking for a chance to revive the matter. But the new mayor, Nan Whaley, has reservations, both because of the cost and the potential loss of privacy.

“Since 2001, we haven’t had really healthy conversations about personal liberty. It’s starting to bloom about a decade too late,” Whaley said. “I think the conversation needs to continue.”

To that end, the mayor has another idea: She’s encouraging the businesses that own Dayton’s tallest buildings to mount rooftop surveillance cameras capable of continuously monitoring the downtown and nearby neighborhoods. Whaley hopes the businesses would provide the video feeds to the police.

McNutt, it turns out, has cameras for those situations, too, capable of spotting individual people from seven miles away.

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