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US surveillance cameras raise privacy concerns

Press TV – February 6, 2014

349449_camerasPrivacy advocates in the United States are concerned about a new class of surveillance cameras which are able to monitor an area the size of a small city for several hours at a time.

The cameras, built by Persistent Surveillance Systems, can spot people up to 25 miles away, The Washington Post reports.

The cameras, mounted on a fixed wing aircraft, can track every vehicle and person, enabling police, businesses and even private individuals to identify people and track their movements, the report says.

Ross McNutt, the president of Persistent Surveillance Systems, said the cameras have already 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.

He said they have also been flown above Baltimore; Philadelphia; Compton, Calif.; and Dayton in demonstrations for police.

McNutt, a former Air Force officer who helped design a similar surveillance system for use in wartime Iraq, said he hopes to deploy the systems around the country to help solve and deter crime.

However, the use of cameras in US cities is raising civil liberties concerns, though 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.

“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.”

February 6, 2014 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , ,

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