In November 2010, a police lieutenant from Parma, Ohio, asked Vanguard Defense Industries if the Texas-based drone manufacturer could mount a “grenade launcher and/or 12-gauge shotgun” on its ShadowHawk drone for U.S. law enforcement agencies. The answer was yes.
[ ]…In short, the business of marketing drones to law enforcement is booming. Now that Congress has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to open up U.S. airspace to unmanned vehicles, the aerial surveillance technology first developed in the battle space of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is fueling a burgeoning market in North America. And even though they’re moving from war zones to American markets, the language of combat and conflict remains an important part of their sales pitch — a fact that ought to concern citizens worried about the privacy implications of domestic drones.
Some movies that immediately came to mind where the police used drones were the original movie version of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 411 and the loosely adapted film version of P.K. Dick’s Minority Report. In both police and their drones are used to stifle civil liberties. Since police are asking and suppliers are willing to have such concerns doesn’t require much tin foil. At one time SWAT teams were for dangerous situations that required military type assault skills to both contain someone who was dangerous and to keep civilians safe. Now they are routinely used – sometimes just for drug raids – innocent deaths have become routine in turn. While some studies suggest that we’re becoming a less intelligent nation, there are quite a few tech savvy people out there. What happens when there is an it becomes a contest between civil liberties advocates and the drone cheerleaders. The amateur techies design weapons to take down the drones or find ways to hack their guidance systems. The government reacts with laws against writing certain software, building certain devices or crippling the average consumer computer so that it cannot be used to write what they define as malicious code. Who is held responsible when the first innocent person is killed by a drone. here we are in the age of Google street view and GPS and SWAT teams are raiding the wrong address.
According to that article it is predicted that law enforcement drones to be used on civilians will be a $6 billion industry by 2016, just three years from now. Law enforcement, not being a private enterprise will get that money from tax revenue. Yet there is resistance to shoring up Social Security and Medicare. People still complain that public education needs more money. Certainly true in school districts where the average income in at or below the median.
With 56 domestic government agencies now authorized by the FAA to fly drones in U.S. airspace, law enforcement is leading the way in the adoption of unmanned vehicles. According to documents published last week by Electronic Frontier Foundation, 22 of the authorized agencies are primarily law enforcement departments, while another 24 entities (mainly universities) have law enforcement functions under them.
Among the domestic users are the Department of Homeland Security, which flies a fleet of nine drones over the country’s northern and southern borders, and the FBI. A Bureau spokesman declined to comment on the nature and purpose of the FBI’s drones saying that he could not discuss “investigative techniques.”
Not to be an alarmists, but this already seems like a done deal. All urban areas are under video surveillance, they are considered public spaces, thus individuals are not thought to have a right to privacy in such areas. To that we’ll have drones. I sense that like so many industries in the past, there is so much money at stake, the profit motive will drive lobbying. The lobbing, as usual, will give the largest and loudest voice to a hand full of industries in how that legislation is shaped.
Some short takes: Strange: Why Do Conservative Red States Have More Traffic Fatalities? The short cynical answer that first pops into your head is true and so is the cause in terms of mind-set.
Fiona Apple Cancels South American Tour to Be With Her Dying Dog. If you’ve never been close to a pet this may sound like melodrama. Those of us who have had dogs know that they become part of the family. They’re like kids with bushy tails. They love you like no human ever will, without qualification.
Knuckleheads in the news, George Eliot writing desk stolen from Nuneaton museum.
John McCain (R-AZ) writes a lot of books in which he talks about honor. Proof you do not have to be an expert on something to get your writing published: Office of the DNI cut “al Qaeda” reference from Benghazi talking points, and CIA, FBI signed off
Maybe we’ll all be gone in a month and none of these earthly concerns will matters anyway. Though since science usually triumphs over myths I will still pay the utility bill, Mayan Apocalypse Countdown: 1 Month ‘Til Doom