Privacy experts: 'We should be worried' about coming spy threat

 February 25, 2024

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

Many government agencies use license plate readers to track drivers. Toll roads use electronic chips to keep track of cars, and bill their owners. People constantly are being tracked by where their cell phones ping towers.

But there's a new threat to privacy coming, and experts say a satellite, expected to be launched in 2025, could zoom in on anyone, anywhere.

According to the Daily Mail, the satellite is being created by startup Albedo and has the ability to zoom in on license plates from space.

Which, the report quotes privacy experts confirming, "will create a 'big brother is always watching' scenario."

The report documents that the company has separate million-dollar contracts with the U.S. Air Force and the National Air and Space Intelligence Center to spy on "potential threats to U.S. national security."

And while the company says there won't be facial recognition software installed, it doesn't mention imaging people or protecting privacy.

Privacy experts are sounding alarms, the report said.

Jennifer Lynch, of the privacy-promoting Electronic Frontier Foundation, told the New York Times, "This is a giant camera in the sky for any government to use at any time without our knowledge. We should definitely be worried."

The company's tech is a "Very Low Earth Orbit satellite," and company official Topher Hadda said the goal is eventually to have 24 spacecraft watching 24 hours a day.

Jonathan C. McDowell, a Harvard astrophysicist, told the Mail, "'It's taking us one step closer to a Big-Brother-is-watching kind of world.

It previously was illegal to create a satellite that could track an object of less than 30 centimeters, a standard that allowed for the ID of buildings and cars but not faces.

Rule changes, however, including those made by the Trump administration at the time, now make it permissible to identify objects down to 10 centimeters, the report said.

Further, these satellites are expected to orbit only 100 miles up.

The Mail said, "Haddad addressed concerns that the satellites would destroy people's right to privacy in a public forum, writing that the company is 'acutely aware of the privacy implications and potential for abuse/misuse,' and expects it to be 'an ongoing, evolving issue over time.'"

The company said it would monitor people who are allowed to use the tech "on a case-by-case basis."

But in an interview with the New York Times, John Pike, of Global, said, "You're going to start seeing people. You're going to see more than dots."

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