Appeals court hears Baltimore’s aerial surveillance case

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A panel of federal appeals court judges on Thursday appeared to have differing views on whether an aerial surveillance program in Baltimore should continue to be tested as a crime-fighting tool.
The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia, heard oral arguments remotely in an appeal from a federal district court decision denying a request from the American Civil Liberties Union to temporarily block the pilot program of the Baltimore Police Department.
The ACLU, on behalf of a grassroots organization and area activists, sued the department and its leader in April to stop the test from kicking off.
The arguments at Thursday’s hearing centered on whether the program violates people’s reasonable expectation of privacy regarding movement, and results in indiscriminate searches without a warrant.
Under the six-month test that began in May, aircraft outfitted with wide-angle cameras are sweeping over Baltimore during the day to capture images at a rate of one per second. The images can then be stitched together to create a continuous visual record of the city.
Police have said the resolution of the images is not sharp enough to identify a person’s face, ethnicity, gender …

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