Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Once and Future Big Brother: Drones are eyes in American skies

Image: Police officer with drone

        Good Day Humboldt County!

 George Orwell had the spying part right. But the “State” – unlike in his novel 1984 where humans ratted each other out – it’s drones watching our every move looking for “violations.”

 Robots. Drones. We live in the 21st Century’s version of Orwell’s classic: 

“Most Americans have gotten used to regular news reports about military and CIA drones attacking terrorist suspects – including US citizens – in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere abroad.

Photo -Deputy Amanda Hill of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado prepares to use a Draganflyer X6 drone equipped with a video camera to help search for a suspect in a knife attack. Mesa County Sheriff's Dept. via AP

But picture thousands of drone aircraft buzzing around the United States – peering from the sky at breaches in border security, wildfires about to become major conflagrations, patches of marijuana grown illegally deep within national forests, or environmental scofflaws polluting the land, air, and water.

By some government estimates, as many as 30,000 drones could be part of intelligence gathering and law enforcement here in the United States within the next ten years. Operated by agencies down to the local level, this would be in addition to the 110 current and planned drone activity sites run by the military services in 39 states, reported this week by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), a non-government research project.

Americans have mixed feelings about pilotless drones flown over the United States, according to a new Monmouth University Poll.

A large majority (80 percent) supports the idea of using drones to help with search and rescue missions; a substantial majority also supports using drones to track down runaway criminals (67 percent) and control illegal immigration along US borders (64 percent).

Americans on drones: Don't use for speeders

But despite widespread support for certain domestic applications of drone technology, privacy issues are an obvious concern, the poll finds. For example, just 23 percent support using drones for such routine police activity as issuing speeding tickets while two-thirds oppose the idea.” (Read the rest here)



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