Sky Spy

This week Wired reports that tiny charter company Southeast Airlines plans to outfit its planes with digital video cameras to monitor passengers during flights. They also plan to archive the video for ten years.

There’s a valid debate here, but I’m going to side-step it and note only that I’ve said for years that live monitoring of the cockpit seems like an excellent idea. If a pilot isn’t keying his/her mic, authorities can go to the live feed. When accidents happen and the ‘black box‘ cannot be located, there’s always the data center. Recordings can be automatically erased for flights which land without incident.

But back to Southeast. The idea of monitoring passengers bothers me, sure, but even worse is the company they’ve tipped to do it: Sky Way Aircraft. The home page, with its faux seal and prominent “threat advisory,” leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

A moment’s read compounds the feeling. The technology overview begins by noting a Clearwater facility “will provide” services and “will utilize” a WorldCom network. Their 162-node wireless network is “under development” (does that mean construction or planning?) Then you hit this line: “The original cost for this network, that has been in operation for the past 10 years, is in excess of $1.5 billion dollars.” So does it exist or not? Who paid the $1.5 billion?

The second paragraph makes more promises about what the network will do and flaunts its “DOD-5” status. (What the hell that means, I don’t know.) I do know this: this company is selling vaporware, and not well. Hoover’s — even the business phone books — have no record of the organization, and the domain name is registered to Brent Kovar of “WoDark.” That is, unless you look up the domain, which is owned by Brent Kovar of “Freedom Toyz.” Presumably, Brent is related to the “” you get when you click “Investor Relations.”

This from a company that promises to offer “facial recognition, manifest data, telemetry, health / welfare captures and other secure information.” So once again it comes back to the classic question:

Who’s watching the watchers?

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