Satellite surveillance is one of those technological capabilities that we most often associate with the military and with organizations like the CIA. What we do not think about, however, is how satellite surveillance is available to more than just the American government. Space is owned by no one, and anyone who has the funds can launch a satellite. Telecommunications companies, various governments, and media corporations all have satellites. Additionally, it is possible to make use of satellites using computers. In fact, that is how satellite phones and GPS devices work. So, who uses satellite surveillance? The answer: just about anyone.
Satellite surveillance can be used for a variety of purposes. Most common now is relays to watch television or to place phone calls. For the United States and Canada, it actually provides a way to more effectively track and fight fires. And it is possible to track powerful storms and other natural events. And it is no surprise to most people that pictures from satellites can be used by government agencies to keep tabs on possible enemies. What many people do not know is the pinpoint accuracy with which it is possible to view an object about three feet in size.
So, who uses satellite surveillance? For the most part, anyone with access to a satellite’s codes and information and a computer can access the images from that satellite. Television stations use them to show pictures of swirling clouds that represent storms, NASA uses them to take pictures of deep space, and governments and militaries use them to spy on others, and quite possibly even on its own citizens. Interestingly enough, regular U.S. law enforcement agencies do not have regular satellite surveillance access. In order for law enforcement to use satellites for surveillance, they must have warrants and be given special permission. It is even conceivable that some well-connected criminal organizations might possible have satellite access.
Satellite surveillance is a fact of life in our world. Whether or not you truly have to be worried about being singled out for this special attention is a matter for debate. However, it is worth noting that if you are a person of interest to the government, chances are that it can find you and then keep tabs on you.
This article was posted on September 27, 2005