According to the website USAspending.gov, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) awarded a contract to an American defense company to build a vacuum cleaner for surveillance purposes.
A California-based company called Special Services Group, LLC. received a $42,595 contract on November 28 to manufacture a "custom Shop Vac concealment with Canon M50B.” The program completion time is one month, the DEA expects delivery of the spy vacuum on January 01.
Canon describes the high-sensitivity VB-M50B Network Camera as a "PTZ [Pan-Tilt-Zoom] network camera” that “captures video with remarkable color and clarity, even in very low-light environments.”
Depending on the retailer, the camera sells for $3,000 to $3,500; the contract summary specifies the spy vacuum is being funded by the DEA’s Office of Investigative Technology, as Quartz first reported this story on December 06.
The company behind the spy vacuum: Special Services Group “is a leading supplier of technical solutions for law enforcement, military and government agencies in the United States of America,” its website says. “Due to the critical missions of our customers, we have chosen not to place our product information on our website. Please use the contact section of our site to request more information.”
So, what did social media have to say about spy vacuums?
Over $40,000 for a $200 shop vac and $3400 camera. I need to get into government contracting.— Michael Hodapp (@michaelhodapp_) December 7, 2018
There IS no group of more corrupt, self serving, life-ruining, constitutionally eroding, mission creeping, authority abusing budgetary black-holes in all organizations attached to to the US gov.— Dont Fear the Repair (@DontFearRepair) December 7, 2018
Blackwater went to THEM for tips, no doubt.
Yeah, they hide cameras in everything except their budget audits, operations floor, or oversight inquests.— Dont Fear the Repair (@DontFearRepair) December 7, 2018
Y'know, anywhere they'd risk facing indictments for all the shady shit they've been neck deep in since '83.
So, am I supposed to feel outraged about this....or something?— ViViDiViNE1 (@ViViDiViNE1) December 7, 2018
Last month, new government procurement data also showed how the DEA purchased an undisclosed number of secret surveillance cameras that are being disguised as streetlights.
Again, Quartz first reported this dystopian development of federal authorities stocking up on “covert systems" in November. The report showed how the DEA paid a Houston, Texas company called Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC. approximately $22,000 since June for “video recording and reproducing equipment.”
It is not just streetlights and vacuum cleaners the federal government wants to mount covert surveillance cameras on, it seems cameras inside traffic barrels could be heading onto America's highways in the not too distant future.
And as Quartz reported in October, the DEA operates a complex network of digital speed-display road signs that covertly scan license plates.
Chad Marlow, a senior advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU, told Quartz that cameras in street lights have been proposed before by local governments, typically under a program called “smart” LED street light system.
“It basically has the ability to turn every streetlight into a surveillance device, which is very Orwellian to say the least,” Marlow told Quartz. “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.”
And so, as the US continues to be distracted, torn amid record political, social and economic polarization, big brother has no intention of letting the current crisis go to waste, and quietly continues on its path of transforming the US into a full-blown police and surveillance state.