Evan Greer, deputy director of the Digital Rights Organization Fighting for the Future, said of the data breach: “This is a very clear example of why mass surveillance makes our society less secure, not more secure. “The company and the government are terrible at protecting the sensitive data they collect.”
Police drones have received a lot of attention recently because they represent a new generation of aircraft capable of particularly concealed surveillance and new behaviors, including flying indoors. In contrast, law enforcement agencies have used helicopters for aerial surveys and monitoring for decades. But the footage released by DDoSecrets illustrates how effective helicopter-mounted cameras are at capturing extremely clear and detailed videos close to the ground. Helicopters can also carry heavier surveillance equipment than basic quadcopters or other types of low-cost drones.
“People think of police helicopters as traffic helicopters, but they are much more than that,” DDoSecrets’ Best wrote. “The technology they carry allows the police to monitor those who do not know they are being monitored. It is very important to let people know what policing technology already has and what they may have in the near future. Otherwise, they will not be able to conduct informed discussions or decisions.”
The widespread use of helicopter surveillance has increased privacy advocates’ concerns about drones. UAVs are cheaper than helicopters, easier to buy and operate, and can still be equipped with a large number of sensors.
“Cameras and zoom technology have been getting cheaper and lighter,” said Matthew Fini, director of the Emerging Technology Program at the Cato Institute. “We need to always treat drones and other aircraft as platforms for other surveillance tools, including cameras, stingrays, thermal imaging and facial recognition software.”
As far as the leaked helicopter video is concerned, Best pointed out that most of the footage is time stamped in 2019, and retention restrictions should be the top priority of the police department.similar discuss When dealing with the police body camera lens, the necessity of the removal policy has been proposed. It is possible that some leaked helicopter footage was retained because it is still relevant to the ongoing investigation, but many files were captured in real time for hours and focused on different, seemingly unrelated activities, locations, and people.
Privacy advocates particularly emphasize the stakes in protecting aerial police surveillance data, because such footage may be valuable to stalkers, attackers seeking material for extortion, domestic or foreign terrorist organizations, or people engaged in espionage in a variety of ways.
Some of the leaked Dallas and Atlanta footage reflects the types of uses you might expect from police helicopters: for example, crowd surveillance in a stadium parking lot on game day, or police pulling cars over. But the other scenes in the shot have a more casual, fluid quality.
“I haven’t heard the specifics of using helicopters in this way,” said Greer of Fight for the Future. “This is not surprising at all, but it is worrying. At least in an urban environment, you would expect police helicopters to show up when certain incidents occur, but interestingly, you have also heard that they are used for intimidation purposes, such as in residents The sky is low over communities that are mostly people of color.”
For example, in Minneapolis, residents have Unanimous report Since the protests and riots after George Floyd’s death in the summer of 2020, police helicopter traffic has been carried out overhead. Although helicopters are a familiar technology, their use in law enforcement surveillance comes with long-standing privacy issues. In 2004, a New York Police Department helicopter discovered an unauthorized large-scale night bike ride in Manhattan and almost captured Four-minute night vision lens A photo of a couple having sex on the terrace of a secluded penthouse apartment.
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