Are these authorities spy planes overhead?

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The skies over San Diego are crowded most on daily basis with business airliners, army planes, non-public plane and helicopters crisscrossing over scores of separate flight paths.

Among the many airborne visitors: plane belonging to the FBI and the Division of Homeland Safety, outfitted with refined video cameras and — in some cases — cell-phone monitoring units.

That’s the conclusion of a narrative printed this week by the information web site BuzzFeed. The web site analyzed plane location information and concluded some 200 federal plane take to the skies each day and slowly circle at low altitudes over many American cities, together with San Diego.

Pink traces: FBI plane | Blue traces: Homeland Safety

Faint traces on this interactive map present flight tracks, which develop into dense circles when planes repeatedly monitor the identical location. The animated dots present the fights of particular person plane over time. [Peter Aldhous / BuzzFeed News]

The information is a snapshot, from mid-August by means of the top of the 12 months, that depicts flights made by the FBI and Homeland Safety. The traces develop into thicker and darker the extra frequent that the flight paths have been used.

The image over San Diego County exhibits a spider internet of intersecting traces, concentrated largely on the a part of the county west of the mountains.

Two gadgets stand out: a thick circle of FBI flights over downtown San Diego, and a bigger Homeland Safety circle that passes over Hillcrest, Montgomery Subject and the College of California San Diego.

Why exactly the 2 businesses have been making repeated journeys over these areas throughout that point isn’t identified. Homeland Safety wouldn’t touch upon the rationale for flights over particular cities, however stated in an announcement to BuzzFeed that the flights are used as a part of investigations into human trafficking, drug smuggling and violent crimes.

The FBI stated that it makes use of flights to help prison investigations. When requested in regards to the San Diego patterns, the native FBI workplace offered an announcement first launched by the company in June 2015 when information of the flights first surfaced.

The assertion stated that it shouldn’t be a shock to comprehend it makes use of the planes in prison probes, and refuted the notion it was conducting mass surveillance.

“These plane usually are not outfitted, designed, or used for bulk assortment actions or mass surveillance, and usually are not routinely outfitted with cell web site simulators,” the assertion stated. “With a courtroom order, or beneath exigent circumstances akin to a hostage scenario, the plane might be fitted to incorporate a cell web site simulator. Nevertheless, that is hardly ever utilized, and solely with senior stage approval. “The FBI doesn’t monitor lawfully protected First Modification exercise.”

So what offers? It’s laborious to know — and that’s exactly the difficulty, stated Nicole Ozer, the Know-how & Civil Liberties Coverage Director for the ACLU of California, which has lengthy been crucial of presidency surveillance applications cloaked in secrecy.

“We don’t know what they’re doing, and to me that highlights the elemental points right here,” she stated. “The federal authorities is spending billions of {dollars} on surveillance expertise, and handing out thousands and thousands in grants to native police and sheriff’s departments. And fundamental transparency, accountability and oversight are non-existent.”

In San Diego, the border space has lengthy been patrolled from the air by Customs and Border Safety — the company that features the Border Patrol. The BuzzFeed map confirmed FBI flights concentrated principally in central San Diego and East County, simply east of El Cajon, and one other pocket of exercise over Oceanside, south of Camp Pendleton.



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