The United States military intends to test a number of surveillance balloons over six states. The future deployment of these high-altitude surveillance balloons was revealed in a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) document filing.

The balloons will not be piloted and will run on solar power. South Dakota will serve as the official launch spots for the balloons, with navigational radiuses of 250 miles. If you live in Wisconsin, Iowa, or even Missouri, you could be under experimental surveillance in the near future. The balloons will reach altitudes of over 60,000 feet, far beyond any human eye detectable ranges. The balloons will be used to “provide a persistent surveillance system to locate and deter narcotics trafficking and homeland security threats.”

The balloons will be equipped with cutting edge technologies, such as powerful radars that can track cars and trucks. Weather won’t discourage the success of the spy balloons missions, either, as they are equipped to endure most types of weather activities.

Of course, it is difficult to ignore the full potential of such high-altitude spy devices. In an article found in The Guardian, Arthur Holland Michel, the co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College in New York, said, “What this new technology proposes is to watch everything at once. Sometimes it’s referred to as ‘combat TiVo’ because when an event happens somewhere in the surveilled area, you can potentially rewind the tape to see exactly what occurred, and rewind even further to see who was involved and where they came from.”

The “everything at once” line should feel a bit unsettling, at least if you are concerned with big government spying. Such technology means common Americans have little place to hide from surveillance. It’s one thing to turn off Alexa or your iPhone, it is far another to hide in a bunker for the rest of your life. Of course, nothing in the description of these surveillance balloons implies that the technology will be used to spy on us. But that’s never disclosed in any technology. The spying events are usually “accidents” or the work of “rogue employees.” Both Google and Amazon claimed they never intended to spy on us using high-tech personal assistants such as Alexa, but they did.

The US Southern Command (Southcom) commissioned the release of these spy balloons. Southcom is responsible for defense agendas in Central and South America. Mainly, they aim to cut off large shipments of drugs.

The ACLU is firing back, however, saying that American citizens have a right to privacy.

“We do not think that American cities should be subject to wide-area surveillance in which every vehicle could be tracked wherever they go,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Even in tests, they’re still collecting a lot of data on Americans: who’s driving to the union house, the church, the mosque, the Alzheimer’s clinic,” he said. “We should not go down the road of allowing this to be used in the United States and it’s disturbing to hear that these tests are being carried out, by the military no less.”

Sierra Nevada, the technology company tasked with supplying Southcom with spy technology, previously distributed planes for use in Central and South American operations. But planes are expensive in terms of fuel usage and flight crews. Solar spy balloons save tremendous money and ultimately, would be less detectable making them more effective.

In other words, US government surveillance just got super cheap and easy. The balloons can stay in the air for months at a time. Some believe these balloons may be able to provide improved cell phone and Internet services. Could the 5G health risk activists have yet another concern?

surveillance balloons midwest

Google earth picture of South Dakota surveillance balloon launch station.

The bitter truth remains, we can’t trust our government with spying technology. Yes, it’s always been among us, but new technology is bolstering its

potential to unfathomable heights (pun intended). Our devices consistently track us, now the government can literally follow us as we drive to the store from 60,000 feet away. It will all be accomplished under the guise of more “safety and security.”

As a group, we are trading our civil liberties for perceived improved security. If history tells us anything, we aren’t likely to win that battle.

Author: Jim Satney

PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.