August, 2012 - Surveillance News

Scanners Can Read at Molecular Level

According to reports, Picosecond Programmable Lasers may be used within one or two years, in airports and other high-traffic areas, allowing readings -- without a physical search -- of spectroscopic information including adrenaline levels, gunpowder residue and traces of explosive residue left by fingerprints, and illegal substances.  The technology was developed by Genia Photonics, a private firm, now partnering with In-Q-Tel, a CIA and Congress-chartered company.  The laser vibrates molecules on the subject, and the molecules are then read by the machine.   The technology is reported to be fast and accurate, possibly ten million times faster, and one million times more sensitive, to scanning technologies currently used at airports and by border patrols.

 Sources:  cbsdclocal, "New Homeland Security Laser Scanner Reads People At  Molecular Level," July 11, 2012: /07/11/new-homeland-security-laser-scanner-reads-people-at-molecular -level/.  Daily Mail Reporter,, "Homeland Security buys big brother laser scanner that can tell if you are high, what you are carrying, and even what you had for breakfast ... from 50 meters away," July 10, 2012: Home land-Security-buys-big-brother-laser-scanner-tell-high-carr ying-breakfast--50-meters-away.html.

FAA Authorized in 2012, 106 Entities to
Fly Drones Domestically

Testimony before Congress July 19, 2012, by a General Accountability Office (GAO) official, disclosed that since January 1, 2012, the FAA has authorized 106 federal, state, and local governments and academic institutions to fly drones domestically.  The goal of the FAA, the official said, was to permit drones over the U.S. "to the greatest extent possible."  Privacy is a concern, according GAO Director of Physical Infrastructure Issues Gerald L. Dillingham, who told the House Homeland Subcommittee on Oversight that, "... civil liberties organizations have expressed concerns that the potential increased use of UAS in the national airspace by law enforcement officials or for commercial purposes has potential privacy implications," and, "Currently, no federal agency has specific statutory responsibility to regulate privacy matters relating to UAS."   Mr. Dillingham stated that "by developing guidelines for the appropriate use of UASs ahead of widespread proliferation could in fact preclude abuses of the technology and negative public perceptions of the potential uses that are planned for these aircraft."   He also stated that surveillance must take into account Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as address concerns about the collection and use of data collected.

Currently, Customs and Border Protection has and operates ten drones.   The costs of a smaller UAS, or drone -- between $30,000.00 and 60,000.00 -- is analogous to the cost of a traditional police patrol car, Mr. Dillingham said.

Source:  Terence P. Jeffrey,, "FAA Has Au-thorized 106 Government 'Entities' to Fly Domestic Drones," July 20, 2012: article/faa-has-authorized-106-government-entities-fly-do mestic-drones.

NYC to Field All-Seeing Domain
Awareness System

In a July 30, 2012 article at, the staff reported that New York City will soon implement an "all-seeing ‘Domain Awareness System’" (DAS).  Mayor Bloomberg is expected to announce the project soon.   The DAS, which was developed by the NYPD in conjunction with Microsoft, includes a police-owned closed circuit television system, license plate readers and other "awareness devices." it is described as a counter-terrorism tool that will "facilitate the observation of pre-operational activity by terrorist organizations or their agents;" "aid in the detection of preparations to conduct terrorist attacks; deter terrorist attacks; provide a degree of common domain awareness for all Stakeholders; reduce incident response time;" and "create a common technological infrastructure to support the integra-tion of new security technology."

Source -to-launch-surveillance-software-system-to-track-crime.

by Neil Leithauser
Associate Editor