back to article Forget black helicopters, FBI flying surveillance Cessnas over US cities. Warrant? What's that?

The FBI has confirmed it is using shell companies to fly surveillance aircraft with cellphone scanners and video cameras over US cities on a daily basis – and without the need for warrants. The aircraft were spotted over Baltimore last month monitoring the protests and riots in that city. An AP investigation has confirmed that …

  1. PleebSmash
    Big Brother

    what's next?

    Funny we learned about the FBI Cessnas after the FBI drones.

    Next comes the drones with Stingray, then Predators with Hellfire, then swarms of locust drones (in the thousands, up from 30).

  2. Someone Else Silver badge
    Big Brother


    Most used the name Robert Lindley in the documentation, and the individual appears to have three different signature styles on documents.

    Of course there isn't anyone on the payroll with that name, but he...I mean they... are on the payroll.

    Perhaps they just spelled "Ludlum" incorrectly?

  3. cyrus

    Time to

    get the high powered green lasers out and shoot at The cockpit of any Cessna you can find.

    1. choleric
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Time to

      Did you hear that, James Comey?

      You've just provoked an anarchic resistance against your agents from among the very population you are trying to protect.

      Black helicopter icon, naturally.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Better yet

      Develop a cheap mass produced solution with a green laser on a gymbal that tracks any moving "cell tower" in the sky. That way they can be left in place somewhere without risk of the perp being caught. Does Anonymous have a crowdfunding site for anti-surveillance tech?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Better yet

        That's why they're making the drones. They can't be blinded. And shooting them down could be construed as a militaristic act.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Better yet

          Of course drones can be blinded, how do you think they see? CCDs don't work well when a laser is shone at them. You don't even need one able to blind people, an IR laser that's invisible to the naked eye would work to blind the CCD in a spy drone unless they've got an IR filtering lens (which I doubt they do as that would make it unable to see in the dark)

          Not that this would do much to stop it from slurping cell data, for that I think Apple and Google ought to get together with Qualcomm's best cellular guys and figure out a way to makes smartphones smarter so they don't use the government's fake aerial base stations. We've got accelerometers in the phones that let it know what direction is 'up' and whether its moving. Refuse to associate with a base station that's in motion or is at more than a 30* vertical angle unless the signal strength is so high and RTT is so low that you can tell the phone is essentially in its shadow.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Better yet

            Multiple lenses, easy to do and recommended anyway: one IR-capable (and probably ONLY IR-seeing for night vision and laser resistance), one IR-filtering. Plus drones don't have to see to steer. They can use GPS and accelerometers to fly as well. IOW, they can fly on instruments, meaning they can effectively fly blind.

            As for detecting the false signals, you can't do that without at least three antennas. Most cell phones only know the strength of a tower signal; location tends to come from other sources and a fake tower can fake that info. Put it this way, anything private enterprise can do, the government can outdo because, unlike the former, they can legally go outside the limits. They can do things the private folks can't and do it in such a way as to make them indistinguishable from real stuff.

          2. Cynic_999

            Re: Better yet


            Refuse to associate with a base station that's in motion or is at more than a 30* ...


            Detection of base stations that are moving may just about be possible, but a cellphone has nothing that can determine what direction a signal is coming from.

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Better yet

            "Refuse to associate with a base station that's in motion or is at more than a 30* vertical angle"

            At these frequencies it's virtually impossible to pick up either factor. Moving a few feet in either direction causes massive signal variations in urban canyons. There'd be too many false alarms.

          4. itzman

            Re: Better yet

            What makes you think that drones actually see anyway?

            With GPS and inertial nav to pilot them, they dont need to see to fly.

            And I dounbt you would burn out a CCD with a laser of the sort of power easily available.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Better yet

              Detection of base stations that are moving may just about be possible, but a cellphone has nothing that can determine what direction a signal is coming from.

              Apple or similar could detect moving base stations by using crowdsourcing. Throw a routine into IOS or software a lot of people are carrying around that would detect signal strength. The station with changing numbers would be your suspect; plus it would continually be dropping off and appearing on different people's phones in the direction of travel.

              Or, if you were doing it as an individual, dot a static reciever around your city every square mile or so and just keep tabs on the things that are changing. You'd get approximate position direction and speed.

        2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Re: Better yet

          "That's why they're making the drones. And shooting them down could be construed as a militaristic act."

          So glad that when my piloted plane is shot down it will be done in the name of peace and love.

    3. gollux

      Re: Time to

      Don't worry, the time has come for mini-assassin drones with green laser detectors. I would be the first to buy one for disposal of the idiot that keeps flashing people on our local highway.

    4. GH1618


      What you are advocating is illegal and likely to get you in serious trouble if you do it.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Duh... act like there is something wrong with this? Geesh, buy a clue.

  6. Mark 85 Silver badge

    So what's new?

    They've been using vans packed with electronic gear for ages. So now why is this a big deal other than it's "tech in the air"?

    Yeah.. weary of being watched by anyone and everyone because they can.

    1. Cynic_999

      Re: So what's new?


      They've been using vans packed with electronic gear for ages. So now why is this a big deal other than it's "tech in the air"?


      Because a van has to be relatively close, which means they are generally used for *specific targets*. An aircraft can "see" an entire city at once, and so can be used for mass surveillance.

      Personally I do not have any major concerns over the authorities keeping tabs on a person or group that they have good reason to suspect is a significant threat. What I am opposed to is mass surveillance and/or data-gathering of people who are not suspected of anything, or conducting searches or surveillance of suspects to an extent that is out of all proportion to the level of suspicion or level of threat that they represent.

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: So what's new?

        So you are against use of any method that has the capability to put in view anyone other than a specific target whom they have good reason to suspect is a significant threat, and any surveillance not associated with identified suspects (of criminal activity)? That seems quite unreasonable. The example of Baltimore a few weeks back suggests that general - i. e. "mass" - surveillance may be quite reasonable. In that case there was good reason to suspect that there might be trouble somewhere in a fairly large area, quite possibly caused by random accidental events like an altercation unrelated to the gathering - i. e., no known or identified suspects. In addition, the activity was of a type that is protected by the First Amendment. Law officers are responsible for maintaining order and protecting people and property generally. Should they be prohibited use methods like aerial surveillance, whether by drones or piloted aircraft, to identify places where disorder may be putting either at risk? Why?

        State government highway patrols have used planes (mostly Cessnas, I think) to enforce traffic laws and manage traffic problems on major highways for at least thirty or forty years. The probably have used it on occasion for other purposes as well. This mass surveillance seems not to have produced much griping except by those ticketed for violations, this despite the fact that at least the traffic enforcement aspect involved people under no suspicion.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: So what's new?

          "The example of Baltimore a few weeks back suggests that general - i. e. "mass" - surveillance may be quite reasonable. "


          People have the right to protest. Some people may have rioted, but "guilt by association" is currently not legal in the United States. If people are rioting, you do the hard goddamned leg work of catching them. You do not associate everyone who is participating in a perfectly legitimate and legal protest with rioters, any more than you associate all members of a particular religious or ethnic group with terrorism.

          You might try to say that the protests had been deemed illegal by the folks running the place, except that doing so is a violation of the constitution of the US of NSA, which specifically allows all sorts of assembly...even assembly aimed at changing the regime or removing specific people from power.

          Unless, of course, you want to say that the constitution doesn't mean anything, or that the law should not apply equally to all people. In either case it would mean the law is invalid and should not be upheld, the nation as a whole should be defunct and the US of NSA should now be considered in a state of civil war.

          The law applies to everyone or to noone. And the law of the land includes the first, fourth and fifth ammendments, at least in the US of NSA.

          1. tom dial Silver badge

            Re: So what's new?

            People do, indeed, have a right to protest; they do not have the right to riot. Contrary to a later assertion, they also do not have a right under the US Constitution to assemble to change the regime or remove particular people from office; for that we have procedures to amend the Constitution, elections, and legal processes. Whether the people have a natural right to change the regime is another matter, rather more interesting and complicated.

            Mass surveillance in the form of a circling plane bearing a camera or observer does not infringe the protesters' first amendment rights any more than the presence of police on the ground. It does not even remotely approach a fourth amendment search or seizure. It carries no presumption that anyone is breaking a law or suspected of it, and certainly does not touch on anything mentioned in the fifth amendment. Nothing about it represents unequal application of the law (that would be the fourteenth amendment). And it has nothing at all to do with the NSA (it seems to have been an FBI plane). It is a reasonable and unintrusive way for those responsible for protecting people and property to learn of trouble spots and perhaps manage the response.

            I would have hoped any response would be more reasoned.

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              Re: So what's new?

              "Contrary to a later assertion, they also do not have a right under the US Constitution to assemble to change the regime or remove particular people from office; for that we have procedures to amend the Constitution, elections, and legal processes. "

              Making use of the legal methods available to remove people from office, or make major changes to the constitution, etc requires that people assemble to discuss this. It absolutely is written into your constitution that people have the right to assemble to plot to overthrow you government. What isn't allowed is plotting to use violence to do so.

              That said, given that your government is trying it's damnedest to prevent people from peaceful assembly to discuss peaceful methods of regime change, illegal assemblies to plan illegal violence may be the only path forwards for them.

              When those in power seek to use that power exclusively to keep themselves in power (rather than to serve those who granted them the power their wield) there can be no reason. It becomes an issue of survival. And humans react badly - especially in groups - when they feel cornered.

              1. Tom 13

                Re: So what's new?

                It absolutely is written into your constitution that people have the right to assemble to plot to overthrow you government.

                No it isn't. What is written into the Constitution is that you have the right to peaceably assemble to change the government or the Constitution. Overthrowing the government is specifically disallowed as treason and insurrection.

                Despite police reports, what happened in Baltimore wasn't an assembly, it was a riot organized specifically for that purpose. The media didn't want to report the mayor was letting the gangs wage turf wars and loot 27 pharmacies and 2 methadone clinics, but that's what happened. As soon as the first rock is thrown, everybody should have been required to disburse. Because that's the point at which it stopped being an assembly.

              2. tom dial Silver badge

                Re: So what's new?

                "What isn't allowed is plotting to use violence to do so." Precisely the point of my statement.

                Despite all too frequent police and prosecutor misbehavior, there is no meaningful evidence that the US government or any part of it, or any subordinate government, is trying in an organized way to keep people from assembling to discuss, advocate for, or plan change to either the structure or the staffing of any government under the US Constitution - as long as their proposed methods are lawful. That said, it also must be said that advocates of change cannot assume their efforts will be unopposed, and they can and should anticipate pushback from other political parties and government officials they mean to replace. The opposition may sometimes exceed what the law allows. The more radical the proposed change, the more careful and circumspect they should be, and not only or even mostly out of concern for government interference. Airborne surveillance of the Baltimore riots was not "suppression" and that almost certainly is the case with other instances of FBI surveillance that recently have been in the news, just as it probably is for the RCMP's fleet of aircraft.

                1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                  Re: So what's new?

                  You're absolutely wrong. Monitoring who is attending public protests or gatherings to discuss lawful change in government absolutely is suppressing them. Governments in the US do monstrous things on a whim. That's when innocent people aren't being gunned down, tased or worse.

                  The people in the United States have every right to fear for everything they have, from a job to material goods to their very lives if they are identified as being part of a group that someone in power doesn't like. Engaging in activities that are dedicated to tracking who is participating in anti-establishment activities absolutely is supression of those activities.

                  And don't get me started on bullshit tactics like kettling, or the insanity of Bill C-51 here in Canada.

                  1. tom dial Silver badge

                    Re: So what's new?

                    I completely agree about civil forfeiture. Given the well known fact that any US currency that has circulate has traces of cocaine, it is obvious that it allows the government to seize currency at will. I do not understand how it constitutes due process under the fifth amendment. I will continue to disagree that police presence at a public demonstration, including airborne surveillance, necessarily constitutes oppression or even tracking. First I've heard of kettling, though; it appears police crowd control tactics don't vary much across national borders.

                    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

                      Re: So what's new?

                      "I will continue to disagree that police presence at a public demonstration, including airborne surveillance, necessarily constitutes oppression or even tracking. "

                      Police presence at a protest doesn't constitute oppression or tracking. That is police keeping the peace and only collecting names and information of attendees if they break the law.

                      Police hoovering up every detail they can hoover up about every attendee at a protest absolutely is both tracking and oppression.

                      One is the presumption of innocence and maintenance of the rights of individuals and the group. The other is a presumption of guilt, and the shredding of the rights of the individuals and the group.

            2. Tom 13

              Re: I would have hoped any response would be more reasoned.

              Trevor only takes his meds when he has to write an article for El Reg.

  7. asdf


    And yet they don't have the resources to send any of the banker scum, rigging world wide interest rates, to jail. Ok then.

    1. Eric Olson

      Re: hmm

      They have the capability... they've just been told by the SEC that doing so would destabilize the economy and create chaos across the world.

      Now, I'm not saying that a bunch of bank executives and subsidiaries losing the ability to do business because of felony charges wouldn't destabilize things and possibly even create a recession... but it can't be much worse then the one those behaviors created in the first place. And the Mexican cartels, Triads, ISIS/L, and FIFA would all find themselves without open accounts. How many times has HSBC been fined for actively participating in money laundering?

    2. LucreLout

      Re: hmm

      Wow. Routine FBI arial surveillance of US citizens, and the best contribution you feel you can offer is to whinge about something "the bankers" were blamed for that happened 8 years ago?

      And people wonder why the government keep getting away with stuff...... "Wait, no, don't look at what we're doing, look at what they did!"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: hmm

        > "the bankers" were blamed for that happened 8 years ago?

        Should have figured would get blow back considering how many in UK IT depend on them. The Forex (foreign exchange) scandal was still going on at least as late as 2013. The government at least in the US mostly just does what the corporations tell them (long live SuperPAC dark money). They are the real puppet masters. The government just slaps the bank's wrist occasionally to appease the peons and the banks consider it a cost of doing business. No one dares lose their trading privileges or god forbid actually go to jail.

      2. asdf

        Re: hmm

        >And people wonder why the government keep getting away with stuff.

        They do in the US because our broken ass 18th century political system as an alpha version of democracy only allows two viable, nearly identical in all but rhetoric, shitty choices for virtually any office. The founding fathers knew too that political parties were the biggest risk to their new government. They were right.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: hmm

          Washington was right. Unfortunately, he was also outvoted. Even HE got labeled a Federalist, in contrast to the Democratic-Republicans led by Thomas Jefferson. The Founding Fathers ended up taking sides because people naturally congregate if it's to their mutual benefit. Washington underestimated this basic human trait.

    3. GH1618

      Re: hmm

      One went to jail -- Kareem Serageldin. The New York Times Magazine had an article on why there were not more prosecutions, if you want to read up on it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: hmm

        >One went to jail -- Kareem Serageldin

        ie the token brown person. I believe they also threw a few people with Indian last names under the bus for insider trading as well. Should have joined the right country club.

  8. Nunyabiznes


    With all of the snooping technology available to the FBI, who are supposed to investigate cases of RICO as part of their actual remit, they can't find the owners/operators of scam telemarketers and shut them down (with a few notable exceptions of course).

    But by golly if you want to walk down the street in a peaceful demonstration (screw the people instigating and participating in looting) they sure have your number.


    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Telemarketers

      "With all of the snooping technology available to the FBI, who are supposed to investigate cases of RICO as part of their actual remit, they can't find the owners/operators of scam telemarketers and shut them down (with a few notable exceptions of course)."

      Aren't most of them based OUTSIDE the country?

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Telemarketers

        "Aren't most of them based OUTSIDE the country?"

        Thanks to the USA's long-arm statutes that's no barrier. A bunch of busts went down in Nigeria a while back. It's a little harder for them to go after russian criminals.

      2. Tom 13

        Re: Aren't most of them based OUTSIDE the country?

        Charles, you should know better than to get in front of a 2 minute hate with facts.

    2. Dan Paul

      Re: Telemarketers

      Define "Peaceful demonstration". Sure was not "peaceful" in Ferguson, NYC, or Baltimore (except in daylight for the most part) The instigators, looters and arsonists deserved Hellfire missiles.

      The FBI did not care about the peaceful people. They were looking at everyone in general. But more than likely there was a "Stingray" unit in one of those aircraft as there were "flash mob" messages being sent to people that resulted in the local mall being looted.

      1. Crazy Operations Guy

        Re: "The instigators, looters and arsonists deserved Hellfire missiles."

        Yeah, because using a multimillion dollar missile is totally the appropriate response for someone stealing a few thousand dollars of electronics. And it totally wouldn't set off yet another mass riot, no, not at all....

        1. Tom 13

          Re: for someone stealing a few thousand dollars of electronics.

          You need to lay off the commie Kool Aid. It wasn't a few thousand, it was millions. And it wasn't just electronics, they injured and mostly likely killed people, but that would have gotten in the way of the peaceful protest narrative being pushed by the incompetent mayor and the POTUS who had his community organizers running the riots. Oh, maybe not in the put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger fashion, but killed them just the same. Delayed medical service or the inability to get drugs because all the pharmacies in the area have been looted is probably gonna kill somebody.

          The truth can't be hidden from those of us who have to live in the area. Crime is up and you can't call the police when they're actually needed because they can't police. As soon as they hit the streets their being mobbed by people taping them and they can't do their jobs. Pretty soon it will be a no go zone like most places in Sudan.

      2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Telemarketers

        "The instigators, looters and arsonists deserved Hellfire missiles."

        If you truly believe that, it's time for a civil war in your nation, and I fucking hope you lose. Badly.

        1. Nunyabiznes

          Re: Telemarketers

          Re: Trevor

          He might be exaggerating a little, but the looters, arsonists and especially those people who are using race relations to further their own careers and bank accounts need to be held accountable for their actions, just as any official or institution that is overstepping their bounds should be.

          Those people who peacefully but firmly practiced their right to assemble and speak I will defend (and I have - both directly and indirectly while in the service).

          There is a lot more that can be discussed, but back and forth on a forum probably isn't the most conducive to civil discourse.

          1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

            Re: Telemarketers

            Those who looted and rampaged for the very first time actually achieved results. The system in the US is so broken it probably needs more of that, rather than less. And that's the goddamned problem. We should be able to resolve our issues peacefully. With in the US of NSA this is no longer possible.

  9. Keef

    Northolt Station Flight and more, the UK is doing this too...

    A couple of Britten Norman Islanders operate out of RAF Northolt for surveillance:




    Also, let's not ignore:




    The last two might be more to do with surveying but there are suspicions they do more than that.

    Warrants might be in place for those aircraft to listen in, but we are being monitored in more ways than most people know.

    1. M7S

      Re: Northolt Station Flight and more, the UK is doing this too...

      G-UMMI ??

      As I believe the Americans say; "There's a bear in the air"

      1. Richard Taylor 2

        Re: Northolt Station Flight and more, the UK is doing this too...

        Well makes a difference from a bear in the woods or the Vatican I suppose. Pressures of habitat change I suspect.

    2. I've forgotten what I wanted to say...

      Re: Northolt Station Flight and more, the UK is doing this too...

      Controversially, I don't really care re surveillance flights. Does this make me a bad person / some sort of government apologist? Or just pragmatic enough to think that a) its probably less that Sainsbury's et al know about me and b) my life just isn't that interesting to interest anyone else??

      1. Cynic_999

        Re: Northolt Station Flight and more, the UK is doing this too...


        my life just isn't that interesting to interest anyone else??


        What you are effectively saying is, "I don't care because it doesn't affect me." aka "Bugger you Jack, I'm alright."

        As someone once said, if you don't stand up for the rights of people who it *does* affect, by the time things have escalated to the point that you are also being affected there will be nobody left to stand up for *your* rights. It takes just one additional law to transform you from an honest citizen into a criminal.

        1. Tom 13

          Re: It takes just one additional law

          Quite right. By the same token it takes just one additional court interpretation to undo the laws that hold our country together. There never has been a right to be unobserved in public. Which means you're the one advancing the one additional law.

          Frankly, the one additional law that makes me a criminal was done long before I was born, and it was done by the people on your side of the argument. You want to outlaw my faith, my right to self-defense, indeed my right to actually own property instead of merely holding while it pleases the current politicians. As for the eavesdropping, as others have noted in the context of the MPAA and the RIAA, making a copy of your communication does not remove your papers from you. You still have them. And in the case of actual riots where you don't know the perps before they kill someone, it might just be handy to have the sms, tweets, and other social media messages that resulted in the flash mob so you can hold the perpetrators responsible. In fact, there is no other way to get that data. Leaving the mob in charge as you advocate destroys civilization. When civilization is destroyed all rights are lost to the biggest nastiest brute in the region.

      2. Intractable Potsherd

        Re: Northolt Station Flight and more, the UK is doing this too... @ Forgetful person

        "my life just isn't that interesting to interest anyone else". You missed the correct modifiers, which are a) "yet", and/or b) " as far as I know". You actually have no idea what your data-shadow has suggested to people who are trawling this stuff. Are you *absolutely* sure that your friends, their friends, those neighbours you know exist only because the car goes in and out of the drive regularly, or the woman in the corner petrol station you frequent aren't people of interest? What about the colleague you only ever speak to on the phone/by email?* If they are, then you might be. That is why sensible people are afraid.

        *This is not an exhaustive list, and the specifics are for illustration only.

  10. ecofeco Silver badge


    Warrants have been passe or merely pro forma since the 1980s. The 4th Amendment is dead.

  11. GH1618

    This is nothing. Picking up cell phone traffic from the air is no different from picking it up by driving around in a van, which they've done for a long time. Same with cameras. In the 1960s, the FBI photographed demonstrations in public places from rooftops, often openly. The difference is that then they usually were photographing anti-Vietnam War protesters, while today they are more interested in actual criminals. That's an improvement.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      "... today they are more interested in actual criminals." Citation needed.

      1. GH1618

        "Citation needed."? This isn't Wikipedia.

        I don't have one for you, but I am old enough to remember the anti-Vietnam War protests in the 1960s and 1970s. Perhaps you aren't. They were huge, and went on for years. While there was some criminal activity associated with them, it was exceedingly small, given the scale of the demonstrations. They were basically political. Participants were proud to show there faces and be seen as part of the opposition. Authorities would photograph the most benign demonstrations -- I remember one that was nothing more than a candlelight vigil in a public park, with perhaps a couple of speakers. The police, whatever their organization, set up on a rooftop across the street to photograph us. We turned toward them and waved.

        Compare that to today. If you hold a quiet, peaceful demonstration in a public place nobody pays any attention. Try holding a candlelight vigil in a public place and see if the FBI shows up to monitor it. Your first problem would be to get more than three people to participate.

        There are larger demonstrations nowadays which do draw the attention of authorities. A lot of the people who participate cover their faces, because they are not there merely to express opinions but to raise hell. I happen to live in Oakland, which is a go-to place for people who want to commit acts of random vandalism on the flimsiest pretext, and there are several other cities where vandals exploit legitimate demonstrations of protest to commit illegitimate acts of destruction and sometimes violence against persons. These people are criminals. They should be monitored, and apprehended when possible.

        1. GH1618

          I meant "their faces," of course.

  12. Schultz

    National paranoia day

    So when is the national paranoia day when everybody says sorry to the paranoid for laughing at their stories of black helicopters, etc.?

  13. Yag

    At last!

    They're finally making a new season of "The wire"!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "nicknamed dirtboxes..."

    How much equipment are they able to squeeze into their dirtboxes I wonder?

  15. FuzzyTheBear
    Black Helicopters

    There's more

    the US Marshall service does the same with planes covering 95% of the habited territory to spot phones of people wanted by the law and slurping data at the same time . Cessna planes using Boeing equipment.

  16. Pete4000uk

    Over here...

    People who know a thing or two told me a few years ago that a well kitted out aircraft would take off from Staverton* airport with some local government workers onboard.

    * now Gloucestershire Airport

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: Over here...

      I used to fly my C-172 out of Staverton. Just with the normal array of big lenses and radio equipment.

  17. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Land of the free

    What cobblers, to be honest usa and europe have overstepped the mark by miles with their surveilance and control of the population. The thing that annoys me most is the vast bulk of the criminally stupid who ramble on about being kept safe and nothing to hide nothing to fear.... they should fear me ever getting to power, anyone who has ever posted comments stating that crap would be shot to prove they were wrong.

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: Land of the free

      I think there comes a point where you are going to have to stop calling the US, "Land of the Free", I mean I know its not fully suppressive regime etc, but that slogan is getting to the point its sounds like a marketing tourist advert rather than truth.

      1. Yag

        Re: Land of the free

        I know looks most mottos as internal jokes. "United in diversity" is one of the funniest.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Land of the free

          Look, if someone really, REALLY wanted to take over, no document on Earth would impede them. In the final analysis, it's just "ink on a page," especially when put up against raw, overwhelming force.

  18. I've forgotten what I wanted to say...

    @Cynic_999 - Not quite "bugger you, etc" - more a question of choices you / I make. If you go to a protest, you care enough about it that you are proud to be associated with it? If that involves profiles being grabbed, is that different to photographs that have been taken for years? This paranoia about the erosion of personal freedom seems in many cases to be a case of having cake and eating it - if you don't want to be tracked, don't carry a mobile, use cash, or crack on and hope you haven't done anything wrong. And of course, the key point is what is 'wrong' or what's a crime...

    @Intractable Potsherd - too much "what if" for me to worry about if I'm honest? We must interact to some extent with 100's of ppl a day and I don't believe that going to the same sandwich shop as someone 3 times a week is enough to incriminate me to an extent that it would stand up to further study. Lets face it, if you poll enough people, someone you *know* in some way will be up to something they shouldn't be, and we haven't had any knocks at the door yet...

    Apols if I haven't made my point particularly well, but I know what I mean at least...

    1. Tom 13

      @I've forgotten what I wanted to say...

      The problem with all the conspiracy nuts who think we're turning into George Orwell's 1984 is that the such a system can't actually be implemented. It takes to much work by the authorities and falls apart when even a small percentage of the people resist it. That doesn't mean it 1984 is a complete failure as a cautionary tale, only that those who use it these days overstate their case. Mostly I find them to be the sort who are happy to use the State to impose their religious and political views on me, they just don't want anyone else doing it to them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @I've forgotten what I wanted to say...

        The problem with your problem is that it doesn't have to be all 1984 two-way screens and such. There are other ways to exert control such as controlling your purse-strings, your sources of information, etc. Plus there's always the bread and circuses. Besides, Orwell probably didn't figure on the huge jump in computer processing power that can help filter out the chaff. That's why Orwell used "duckspeak" where we would probably say "robospeak" (both are intended to imply mindless, autonomic speech). As for a small percentage resisting it, that's like saying one smart vote against ten stupid votes. You'll just get curb-stomped by the manipulated mindless mob.

      2. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: @I've forgotten what I wanted to say...

        Indeed so. A decisive majority of many commentariats seems to be innumerate when the subject is related to crime, policing, or national security. They also appear to have forgotten why government is needed, and that the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights are not alone a complete description of its purpose and function.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: @I've forgotten what I wanted to say...

          Perhaps, but "ink on a page" doesn't mean much when the rules get thrown out the window and you're staring down raw, overwhelming force.


    “$100 Whoever Hits The Plane”

    20 years ago... Martin Scorsese’s film Casino (1995) features a scene at a golf club where the Feds in a light aircraft have to make a forced landing because they ran out of fuel.

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