According to some federal contracting documents, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) are placing an undisclosed number of covert surveillance cameras, reported Quartz on Saturday.
The Federal Procurement Data System shows that DEA has paid roughly $22,000 to a company named Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC for “video recording and reproducing equipment” since June this year. The recent acquisitions from Cowboy Streetlight Cocealmets have been funded by ICE offices in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. In addition to streetlights, these surveillance cameras are also placed inside traffic barrels.
Christie Crawford, who owns Cowboy Streetlight Concealments with her husband told Quartz that she can’t reveal the details about the company’s federal contracts:
“We do streetlight concealments and camera enclosures. Basically, there are businesses out there that will build concealments for the government and that’s what we do. They specify what’s best for them, and we make it. And that’s about all I can probably say.”
But she did add that:
“I can tell you this—things are always being watched. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving down the street or visiting a friend, if government or law enforcement has a reason to set up surveillance, there’s great technology out there to do it.”
Last week, a solicitation was issued by DEA for “concealments made to house network PTZ camera, cellular modem, cellular compression device”. The solicitation shows that they intended to give the contract to Obsidian Integration LLC an Oregon company with a sizable number of federal law enforcement customers.
Chad Marlow, a senior advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, told Quartz that efforts to put cameras in street lights have been proposed before by local law enforcement as part of a “smart” LED streetlight system:
“It basically has the ability to turn every streetlight into a surveillance device, which is very Orwellian to say the least. In most jurisdictions, the local police or department of public works are authorized to make these decisions unilaterally and in secret. There’s no public debate or oversight.”
To read the full report, head over to the Quartz website.