Posts tagged “ARGUS

Privacy Advocate: “Drones are the Ultimate Totalitarian Technology”

Last week, during a return trip from the Twin Cities, the Spingola Files stopped over in Hudson, Wisconsin, to interview privacy advocate Miles Kinard, the author of the e-magazine exposé, American Stasi: Fusion Centers and Domestic Spying.  Kinard has spent considerable time researching the intrusive capabilities of government operated drones and other government surveillance initiatives.

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SF:   By 2017, some privacy experts believe law enforcement will likely control over 30,000 drones that the government will use to monitor Americans from the skies. Why do you see drones as an issue that affects the public?

MK:   There are two reasons: total 24 x 7 surveillance that is cataloged and stored, and extensive electronic tracking and monitoring, all done without even a simple reasonable suspicion of any wrong doing. In other words, surveillance for surveillance sake.

SF:    How could drones keeps tabs on us 24 x7?

MK:   DARPA, one of the companies that makes-up the security-industrial complex, has developed a 1.8 billion pixel wide-ranging surveillance camera the company has dubbed ARGUS. The definition is so solid that, from just under 17,000 feet, ARGUS can record all things publicly visible within a 15-mile radius of the drone. I’m talking objects as small as six inches.

                [SF has asserted this link to allow readers to view the capabilities of ARGUS]

SF:   What other things can drones do to track and monitor those of us who are simply going about our daily lives?

MK:   The Department of Homeland Security is requiring manufactures of the drones that the DHS intends to purchase to be equipped with IMSI-catchers. These devices act as a vertical base transceiver station that mimics the cellular telephone towers within a 15-miles radius. From just under 17,000 feet in the air, one individual DHS drone could obtain all the numbers of every cellular telephone user in contact with each tower within its reach.

SF:  So these cellular telephone “catchers,” as you described them, could record and keep tabs of cell phone users as these signals bounce-off individual towers without the users’ consent and/or without the consent of the cell tower owners?

MK:    Yes, IMSI devices mimic towers—then record and download the data intended for the towers without the consent of any of the parties involved. In past the government has argued that these towers are owned by private companies and simply leased by users. Hence, the government argued, the users do not have a Fourth Amendment expectation of privacy.

SF:   Well, then, what would prohibit drones, especially those deployed by DHS, from intercepting telephone calls?

MK:  IMSI software currently available can compel a cellular telephone to link up with what is referred to as “no call encryption”; whereby, the digital signal is then converted to recordable audio.  One of the key provisions of the USA Patriot Act revised the definition of electronic eavesdropping. No longer does intercepting and storing a telephone conversation require judicial oversight.  A court order is not mandated unless an agent of the government accesses the stored file to listen to or see the data [i.e. the telephone conversation].

SF:   So, from the air, the government would be able to see what we do on the ground and hear what they couldn’t see?

MK:   Drones are the ultimate totalitarian technology.  Judicial precedent handed down by the courts gives Americans virtually no privacy protections from surveillance conducted from the sky.  When a homeowner erects a stockade fence as a barrier for privacy, if a police officer on the ground were to stand on an object to peer over the fence that would likely be considered a curtilage violation. Yet when a drone records the same data from the air, the courts deem that perfectly lawful, even without a court order. Some of the drones local law enforcement is actively seeking are called nano-drones, which are disguised as hummingbirds or insects; therefore, most people would have no idea when they are being watched or what the government is collecting.

                [Video link to the Rutherford Institute]

SF:  In regards to relatively large cities, what are the ramifications of drone deployment?

MK:   Well, for example, when coupled with the ARGUS surveillance camera, four DHS drones could record every public movement and document all cellular telephone activity in the city the size of Milwaukee. This data is recorded and stored. So, if a government agent wanted to know what had transpired at a particular location five days, four hours and ten minutes in the past, they could easily do so.

SF:   What can the public do to protect their privacy from this Orwellian technology?

MK:    Pick-up the telephone and call your state and federal representatives. Understand that you will likely run into some resistance.  Members of state legislatures and congress of both political parties have a lust for two things: campaign cash and political power. They need the former to obtain the latter. Drone makers and outfitters—Boeing, BAE, DARPA, General Dynamics, to name a few—understand that money talks. So, unless our political leaders hear a hue and cry from the public, they’ll carry water for those with deep enough pockets to contribute to their campaigns. Unfortunately, many of our state and federal lawmakers are all too willing to take the campaign cash and then pass laws that require taxpayers to fund the technology used to chronicle their movements.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

Just Say ‘No’ to High-Tech Drone Surveillance

This comes to us courtesy of a friend of SF, liberty activist Kaye Beach. Please take a few minutes to watch his video about ARGIS—a drone surveillance system that enables 24/7 surveillance of 15 square miles of any city with the data retained and stored for up to 10 years.

This technology is scary. If our state legislatures do not get onboard and prohibit drone surveillance absent a court order, freedom, as we know it in America, will die on the vine.

When speaking about the intrusive nature of high-technology, I have noticed that some of those present seem to shrug their heads as if to say, ‘It is here and there is nothing we can do about it.’

Americans should never concede their liberties to the world depicted in Orwell’s novel 1984.

In Olmsted et al vs. the United States (1928), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that wiretapping, absent a court order, was perfectly legal. Why? Because the court determined that telephone companies actually owned the lines, which meant that the renters of the lines—those who used the telephone—did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Since conversations of a very personal nature occur over telephone lines, Americans demanded that Congress act to protect their privacy from unwarranted government intrusion. In response, the Communications Act of 1934—landmark legislation that prohibited wiretapping of any kind absent a court order—became the law of the land.

Now is the time to get on the horn and call your state and federal representatives to demand that legislation restricting the use of drones be propose and passed.

So far, only one American city, Charlottesville, Virginia, has prohibited the use of Unmanned Ariel Aircraft absent a court order or exigent circumstances.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013