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February 1, 2014
The Skies Have Ears

The storm last week took our power for about 75 hours. I don't know what it was about it that took so long. Otherwise, I wasn't sure just how much of a blizzard it was. It wasn't a ton of snow as far as I'm concerned. Maybe living in an apartment building you don't get that sense of the wind trying to tear your home apart, or the groan of snow piling up on your roof. So, I decided not to post days late and waited until now.

I've been thinking about surveillance again. I went back through old posts to see if I mentioned anything about surveillance drones used by the government. I made only one tiny offhand mention last summer. Drones have been in the news a lot more lately. I don't think we have to be worried about the armed drones around here just yet. Until now I've been unconcerned about drones spying on me. Satellites have watched over cities for decades now. Current ones can read your newspaper if you hold it right. However things are changing.

For one the drones are getting smaller. That allows them to get into places that the satellites have little or no access to. The other is that unlike satellites drones listen. You might think that the sound of their own engine makes them useless for listening devices, however that isn't true. They have directional microphones that barely hear the drone itself behind the microphone. They have laser systems that can pick up the vibrations in glass from people speaking in a room and translate that for hearing. This makes for spy devices that don't have to be planted beforehand and can be on the move with a moment's notice. They are also passive, meaning that they can't be traced, or even noticed given the distance the drone can be away from you.

I also wanted to mention to be careful out on the street. You know they have stoplight cameras watching for speeders and crossing on the red. Did you also know that they have microphones in other locations to listen for gunshots? Yes, there is a network of them to help law enforcement get to the scene or shootings quicker, or find the ones without witnesses that aren't the shooter. The police might not be using those speakers to listen in on people on the street--they rely on software to tell them a shot was fired (they can even tell the difference of a car backfiring)--but I can tell you the O.S.I.R. can do it and does it.

Tags: drones, O.S.I.R., police, surveillance.

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