If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that Americans aren’t the biggest fans of being under the constant watch of the government. We’ll go to all sorts of lengths to avoid being watched, which makes me wonder how we’ll handle the following news. For the next three years, two blimps will survey the Northeast (from Raleigh to Boston) from 10,000 feet in the air.
Fear not: there’s nothing sinister about the blimps, which are owned by the United States military and in place to detect any enemy aircraft or cruise missile that might be headed toward the nation’s capital.Called aerostats, the blimp-like aircrafts has been used for years in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they often carry strong cameras as well as radar to track troop and/or insurgent movements on the ground. These guys can detect airborne things as far as 340 miles away, and surface objects from 140 miles away.
Though the U.S. Army hasn’t confirmed this, experts think it could track vehicles, meaning it could easily track cars on the ground that belong not to insurgent military groups but to the pizza boy at Domino’s. This might be a great way to determine if a pizza is delivered in 30 minutes or less, but the cynic in me wonders if that’ll be its usage.
A little something called the law makes it difficult for the aerostats to carry cameras here in America, and the U.S. Army has made clear that it has no plans to record anything. But that’s not ruled out. We’ll leave it up to our readers to make predictions on that front.
The real story here is military-grade, military-owned surveillance blimps patrolling our own country. Unsurprisingly, this has angered a few people who value their pre-9/11 privacy. No, the aerostats won’t be filming us, but they easily could. And it’s not like we’ll be traveling 10,000 feet in the air to make sure the government is keeping its word.
“That’s the kind of massive persistent surveillance we’ve always been concerned about with drones,” said Jay Stanley, a privacy expert for the American Civil Liberties Union. “It’s part of this trend we’ve seen since 9/11, which is the turning inward of all of these surveillance technologies.”
And it’s not like the tech here is amazing or new. An aerostat is essentially a blimp with some equipment attached to it. It floats around, recording everything around it.
Is this the future? For the next three years, yes, it is.