25. "Watching Over Us"
For years the satellite-spy-industry has flourished as a result of
the "cold-war-fever" that plagued the United States and the
Soviet Union: Extremely sensitive American and Soviet satellites have
been orbiting the Earth with military objectives for years.
Today a complex "civilian" spy network has nurtured with
roots in the U.S. government structure and scientific community. The
use of satellites, government bureaus and their corporate counterparts,
are a far more efficient tool for resource exploitation and social control.
The use of aerial photography and satellite imagery in the decision-making
processes of local, state, and federal government is widespread. A spin-off
from years of military development and space-age computerization, it
is now apparent that individual collective privacy is being threatened
from sources unseen.
State governments usually use aerial photography and satellite imagery
for road and highway planning as well as floodplain mapping. The infamous
U-2 is being used in California for a variety of purposes. Local governments
have used remote-sensing technology for tax assessment purposes and
Photos and images of the major cities have, and will, be used for such
functions as allocation of police patrols, civil defense planning, and
identification of housing conditions.
Police use of satellites has been in practice for some time. Marijuana
and opium fields have been located from space. Most popular with police
agencies is the infrared sensing device, found commonly aboard American
and Soviet satellites. These can be used to observe individuals through
solid objects, like walls.
Because we cannot see satellites passing overhead and aerial activity
is not connected with government and corporate decisions, we, the citizenry,
are unaware of the near-constant monitoring of our persons and property.
There are no legal safeguards protecting us from possible abuses. Users
of remote sensing technology satellite devices are protected from action
taken against them by legal statutes; that is, there is no body of law
which specifically defines courtroom statutes of remote sensing.
Due to the lack of publicity and apparent public unawareness of this
activity, this story is nominated as one of the "best censored
stories of 1977."
"Surveilling the Earth," by Don Jordan, Current, December,
1977, pp. 34-42.