December 18, 2020

THEY KNOW WHEN YOU’VE BEEN NAUGHTY: Capella Space’s new satellite can see into your house at any time.

(UPDATED, see below)

An unconventional new satellite from Capella Space can do the unthinkable: peer right into your bedroom and snap high-resolution pictures at any time. If that sounds pretty creepy to you… yeah, we’re right there with you.

The Capella-2 satellite is unlike any hunk of metal currently orbiting the Earth, thanks to the ludicrously high resolution of its onboard cameras. And Capella has launched it with an unconventional service to match: the government or private customers can request a picture of anything on the planet at any time.

Right now there’s just one Capella-2 satellite roaming around in the atmosphere, so that functionality is somewhat limited. Capella plans to launch six additional satellites with similar capabilities in the next year.

The Capella-2 is certainly an enormous leap forward in space-based photography; it will surely usher in more of a race for this type of technology. The satellite is also a massive privacy risk — and one that lies outside any policy framework we have around surveillance.

If I were President, I’d be tempted to order Space Force to shoot it down.

UPDATE (Charlie): The story now has a correction:

Correction: A previous version of this article stated in error that the satellite can see into buildings. It cannot. The post has been updated to reflect this.

The signal they’re using is 9.6GHz, and most all houses are opaque at that frequency. So it can’t really see into your house, and your sex life is safe from satellites. That doesn’t mean it’s not a privacy concern, though — it can see your property, your car, people going into and out of your house.

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