Do you ever feel like you are being watched? Next time you get that feeling, look up. You may see a small airplane circling overhead, but it might be no ordinary plane! The FBI just confirmed that it imploys a small air fleet to spy on millions of Americans. The planes are registered to and operated by fake commercial companies to hide the FBI's connection.
A collection of at least 50 planes was recently tracked by the Associated Press. Government budget documents offer clues of even more planes, perhaps as many as 115 or more. Since April, the AP tracked over 100 flights circling above major cities and communities throughout the country. Why is the FBI doing this, you may ask?
Surveillance. Homeland security laws have broadened over the past decade and now include controversial digital provisions such as regular aerial surveillance and cellphone monitoring. The FBI has never denied these fictitious companies and the purpose behind them, but it has sealed main points in the statements released by the Justice Department. This makes me curious if there is more going on than meets the eye!
State-of-the-art surveillance technology is powerful and even a bit frightening. A confirmed FBI plane in Virginia was spotted with suspicious antenna and a large camera attached to its side. These airborne gadgets can be used for multiple and controversial operations.
The surveillance equipment outfitted on these planes is capable of identifying thousands of cellphones, even if the phones are not being used. I've written earlier about the controversial StingRay technology that spies on every phone within range, regardless of whether the user is a suspect or not.
The planes are also equipped with powerful cameras that can read license plates from a mile high. Military-grade infrared cameras can even track people through the cover of darkness.
Here's a look at the spy camera offered to law enforcement and the FBI for this type of airborne surveillance.
How does this type of surveillance make you feel? Are you put off with the government spying or do you feel comforted by the watchful eye above? Let me know in the comments section below.