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Spies? Saboteurs? Or just tailwatchers? - News - Stripes

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It’s not difficult to see why spotters could be perceived as a concern. They publish their information online, tracking planes from base to base, country to country, continent to continent. Many spotter groups typically have at least one member who owns a frequency scanner that can pick up the base control tower chatter.

Such information became problematic in the U.K. during the Libya campaign in 2011 when British Tornado fighter planes were embarking on bombing sorties from their home bases, said Ben Vogel, an editor at Jane’s Defence Weekly.

“The worry was that any Libyan intelligence officer could read these postings and know exactly how many Tornados were coming and pretty much exactly when they would arrive,” Vogel told Stars and Stripes in an email.

Information posted by plane spotters also inadvertently exposed the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program, according to a series of stories in London’s The Guardian newspaper. The stories appeared in 2005-06, when the secret interrogation program became public.

I had never heard the phrase "tailwatcher" before.

what about satellite trackers?

Nope. I feel like my eyes are opening to all kinds of "watching the watchmen" terminology.

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