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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 36, No 11 May 30th, 1973

New Techniques

New Techniques

The progress of electronics in the Vietnam war has already had startling effects in the US itself, and notably in the "improvement" of police equipment. The "sensors" or "vibration detectors" of sounds, heat, smells etc., perfected in Vietnam are now used in America, particularly on the Mexican border and the "sensitive zones" around important buildings and private homes. A survey radar developed to scrutinise the jungle had been adapted to "see" through brick or concrete walls.

American city police now have nocturnal sight equipment which amplifies light 40,000 times and in Mount Vernon, New York State, a nocturnal TV system installed over the streets and capable of discerning a man-sized object from a distance of 1 km., even at night, is being tried. All this amounts to constant surveillance as imagined by George Orwell in his novel "1984" 25 years ago, except that we are ten years early.

The massive use of computers has made possible a filing system for the whole American public. It is designed not so much to detect criminals as present or potential "subversive elements" pacifists, members of the Black Power movement and other non-conformists. Three entirely automated and inter-linked data banks already exist — one at the F.B.I., one at the Department of Justice and one at the Pentagon. Liaison with local police is being developed and by 1975 a policeman anywhere in the U.S., will be able to get complete information on any resident within a few minutes.