By Nicholas West
Google has received vast criticism for its Google Earth, Google Maps and Google Streetview systems that have essentially removed the inherent right to privacy and transferred it to the whim of corporate terms and conditions. However, this would seem to pale in comparison to what is being announced from the largest U.S. defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, working in tandem with commercial space imagery vendor, DigitalGlobe.
According to Lockheed, they are making final preparations for a next-generation global imaging satellite called DigitalGlobe WorldView-4. If all remains according to plan, the new satellite will be launched into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base as early as September 15, 2016.
While Google rightly takes heat for its government connections, publicly traded DigitalGlobe’s relationship to the U.S. government is about as fascistic as could ever be constructed. As The Denver Post reported in 2014, DigitalGlobe successfully petitioned the U.S. government to remove previous restrictions on the sale of higher-resolution images to non-government buyers thus opening up new domestic and international commercial applications. The previous generation of this satellite, WorldView-3 at the time, contained an alarming level of accuracy:
WorldView-3 can produce 31-centimeter-resolution images, and several of its already-orbiting satellites already can capture 41-centimeter images. But DigitalGlobe was prohibited, until Wednesday, from selling anything sharper than 50-centimeter resolution to non-U.S. government customers.
The 31-centimeter resolution images allow viewers to discern, for example, the windshield of a car and the direction the car is facing.
….offers short-wave infrared resolution that sees through dust, smog and smoke as well as things on Earth invisible to the naked eye.DigitalGlobe executives told The Denver Post last month that its new sensors allow them to see minerals, identify tree and plant species and gather soil composition. When analyzed, this information can decipher what’s beneath the surface — insight that can then be sold to industries including mining or oil and gas exploration.
The Post goes on to reveal the key reason why such a lenient permission might have been granted: the largest customer of DigitalGlobe is the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, also known as GEOINT. The incredible scope and applications of GEOINT is laid out on the .mil website’s About page – keep in mind the revolving door between military and private companies across the planet, and the choice to offer selective image sales becomes even more troubling.
From the discovery of atrocities in Kosovo, to support for the cities hosting the Olympics, through the response to Hurricane Katrina, and our work in Haiti and Japan, NGA has provided critical GEOINT support when our nation needed it most. In the White House report reviewing the response to Hurricane Katrina, NGA was specifically commended for our timely response during the crisis. GEOINT offered an early version of the same total picture for responders that the administration later recommended for the entire nation as its plan to address major disasters in the years ahead.
In fact, NGA helped track down al Qaeda leader Osama bin Ladin and shared insights with the special operations team that successfully stormed his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 1, 2011.
It is of paramount concern that the functions of Lockheed’s upgraded globe-spanning satellite will no doubt be shrouded by the impenetrable cover of military National Security, while the collected images can be sold to private buyers around the world.
Scouring the planet from 400 miles overhead, the new parameters for the WorldView-4 system are described as follows from a recent Lockheed press release:
“The high resolution and high accuracy images taken by WorldView-4 will support DigitalGlobe’s worldwide customer base,” said Carl Marchetto, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Commercial Space. “DigitalGlobe’s smart imagery serves hundreds of thousands of end-users charged with the safety and security of nations, and enables the maps and geospatial applications relied on by billions of consumers.”
“Only the DigitalGlobe constellation, with the addition of WorldView-4, offers the highest quality, and most comprehensive global coverage of our changing planet through 2030, so our customers can be confident they will have the information to make critical decisions,” said Dr. Walter Scott, Founder and Chief Technology Officer, DigitalGlobe. “WorldView-4 will help us continue to transform the way we see the world, and advance our mission of keeping our planet and its people safe and secure.”
Once launched, WorldView-4 will double DigitalGlobe’s coverage of the world’s highest resolution imagery and increase the rate at which it grows its 15-year library of time-lapse high-resolution imagery. WorldView-4 will orbit Earth every 90 minutes, traveling 17,000 miles per hour and capturing more 680,000 square kilometers of the Earth’s surface daily (19.5 terabytes) the equivalent of the land area of Texas. (Source)
The statement that “DigitalGlobe’s smart imagery serves hundreds of thousands of end-users charged with the safety and security of nations” should sound an alarm to anyone who finds themselves concerned with a trends toward world governance. The reference to a “changing planet through 2030” also would suggest a connection to the United Nations 2030 sustainable development agenda. WorldView-4, then, would appear to be a centralized repository of sensitive images and earth analysis controlled by a single company with direct ties to government. The possibilities for exploitation, political maneuvering and conspiratorial intrigue can’t be difficult to imagine.
As supposedly democratic countries ramp-up secret surveillance of their own citizens under the pretext of security based upon acts of terror that continue to be proven as State-sponsored, and climate change is set to be used as political and economic warfare, a globe-spanning corporate/government all-seeing eye funded privately and publicly offers a dangerous mechanism of total control.
Nicholas West writes for ActivistPost.com. This article may be freely republished in part or in full with author attribution and source link.