LA Sheriff's bizarre Compton surveillance

Matthew says:
For nine days in 2012, the Los Angeles County Sheriff used a spy plane to record low-resolution images of every corner of Compton. Residents of Compton were not told they were under aerial surveillance. The LASD initially claimed Compton was chosen because the city is flat. Critics pointed out most of Los Angeles County is flat, and asked whether Beverly Hills would also undergo aerial surveillance. Journalists also pointed out the videotaping: 1: Is too low-resoltuion to identify anyone, so... 2: it's worthless as evidence, and... 3: The video wasn't real-time so police wouldn't catch anyone in the act So what, exactly, was the point of this expensive program?

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  1. Sweet, full 4th amendment breech...

    Kyllo vs. United States

    http://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/533/27/case.html

    Under a balanced reading of Kyllo, government use of a UAV to reveal “details of the home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion” would be unconstitutional today. Ten years from now, when UAVs will be common, that still may be the case – but that conclusion will need to come from a ruling other than Kyllo.

  2. A friend's parents in a neighboring city to Compton were greeted by what they described as a SWAT team one day... It was a crack-down on building/etc modifications for which a permit had not been obtained from the city. There had been an aerial survey which was then compared to plans on record with the city. I guess that his parents had a back patio that was converted to a room back in the 80's.

  3. Nothing especially nefarious, I'm guessing, just someone high up sending $X out to the surveillance company for some half-assed project and getting $Y back under the table in return for the business. If it was something vaguely plausible like antiterrorism training or a robot equipped with teargas it wouldn't have gotten noticed.

  4. It's not bizarre, it's a stepping-stone to being very clever.

    Journalists also pointed out the videotaping:
    1: Is too low-resoltuion to identify anyone, so...
    2: it's worthless as evidence, and...
    3: The video wasn't real-time so police wouldn't catch anyone in the act

    Journalists are morons. You don't need resolution to identify people because this thing is a fucking time machine. Want to know who that particular (supposedly unidentifiable) blob is? Rewind their day until that blob steps out of their car, then rewind their car until it drives out of their garage at home. You have their address and a name and it was trivial. Software could be set up to automate it. Or wind time forward. Find out where they go, work, hang out, who they meet, who they associate with, learn their routines, etc.
    This aerial surveillance approach could identify everyone and track everyone everywhere they go, every day, always. It sounds like this instance was a technology R&D test working towards that holy grail of the universal surveillance time-machine.
    In the future it won't be a Cesna overhead, it'll be similar to the geo-stationary balloons that ISPs are developing to be permanent infrastructure in the skies.

  5. To see if they could, without being noticed.

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