Electronic Frontier Foundation senior counsel Jennifer Lynch told Al Jazeera that phone data isn’t the only thing protesters have to worry about. Powerful cameras circling above can record individuals’ faces and activities.
In 2012, she said, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department flew a spy plane over the Compton area of Los Angeles, observing the commission of crimes. Most of them amounted to petty theft, The Los Angeles Times reported. But the flights went on in secret for nine days.
The people of Compton, a historically impoverished black neighborhood, didn’t know about the flights, just as the residents of Baltimore didn’t know they were being monitored by the FBI last month.
“When the government conducts surveillance on people without telling people what kind of information they’re collecting, the power balance shifts,” Lynch said. “Instead of being in hands of people, it’s completely in the hands of government.”