New 'Eye In The Sky' Technology Capable Of Solving Crimes While Watching You And Everyone Else

Feb 07, 2014 11:42 AM EST
Persistent Surveillance Systems
The FBI has rescued 168 children and arrested 281 pimps in a countrywide crackdown on child sex trafficking.

An "eye in the sky" security surveillance technology takes photos every second and can keep tabs on people for hours at a time, Yahoo News reported. 

While privacy advocates are worried, the security camera is already being used to solve violent crimes, according to an in-depth report by the Washington Post.

Persistent Surveillance Systems is the organization behind the technology. The company, based in Dayton, Ohio, explained to the Post how it works, as well as some steps the company has taken to appease privacy concerns, according to Yahoo News.

"It starts with an eye in the sky: A small Cessna plane flying in a two-mile radius, 8,000 to 10,000 feet in the air for hours at a time," Yahoo News reported. "The plane is equipped with 12 high-resolution cameras that take photos every second. The cameras can't detect a person's identity (people and vehicles appear as a pixel), but they can track movement over time, which can often lead to an identification and arrest."

The systems are going to be used around the country, Ross McNutt, president of Persistent Surveillance Systems, told the Post.

While Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Compton, California have already seen demonstrations of the system, Dayton has seen one crime solved through the technology, McNutt said.

To help develop a privacy policy for the technology, McNutt said he met with leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union.

According to the Post, police who use the system aren't supposed to examine footage until a crime has been committed, in order to prevent law enforcement "fishing expeditions."

However, privacy advocates remain concerned.

"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, to Post. "The balance struck in our Constitution tilts toward liberty, and I think we should keep that value."

"Totalitarian surveillance state" might be a bit strong, but plenty of Americans have said they are worried about the ever-expanding possibility of incursion into their private lives, Yahoo News reported.

An example would the growing use of drones, for everything from fighting terrorists to delivering tacos.

Some communities are attempting to enact laws that limit their use. In Minnesota, state lawmakers are considering enacting standards for the controversial technology, according to an AP report.

Minnesota state Rep. Brian Johnson, R-Cambridge, told AP that he doesn't want to limit the effectiveness of law enforcement.

"This is an attempt to balance the needs of law enforcement and the civil rights of Minnesotans and their privacy," he said. "We want to make sure we use it properly."

In Deer Trail, Colo., residents plan to vote on whether to make it legal to "hunt" federal drones.

According to the Denver Channel, the election is scheduled to take place sometime after April 1.

Even whales are seeing their privacy disappear. According to a report from CBS News 8, whale watchers are now using drones, Yahoo News reported.

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