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Spying on America from the Air

In another move reminiscent of Orwell’s 1984, cities across America are adopting a new form of surveillance.  The latest trend involves using unmanned aerial drones equipped with cameras to patrol the cityscape from above.  While cameras poking out from every street corner, watching the public incessantly, would be a cause for alarm, the powers-that-be say that the drones are not the same.

So how do they justify these video-armed watchers from the sky?  The police reconcile the dilemma by comparing the drones’ video abilities to those of standard citizens who may happen to have a camera and take a picture.  Since law allows for anyone to take pictures of anything in public places, the police should have that ability as well.  They further go on to explain that the drone recordings are for record purposes only and they will not be ‘on patrol’, but will rather be brought out only when needed.

Well, that sounds harmless enough, right?  The problem is, of course, that this sort of surveillance could quickly degenerate into something else.  Restrictions on their use could slowly be relaxed or, worse yet, experience something akin to the privacy invasion overhaul that the US saw following 9/11.  It would take only a single act of extreme violence or terrorism before the government decided that the drones need to be on patrol constantly and that they need to carry weapons as well.

The threat of carrying weapons is not an idle one either.  These drones are specifically designed to be weaponized.  Manufacturers have constructed them in such a way as to be able to utilize such weapons as tear gas, stun devices, acoustic weapons and EMPs.  While the police claim they do not wish to arm the drones, the option may become more tempting in the future.  Since the drones are ready to accept weapons, that makes the decision to arm them much more likely.

Police forces all over the US are jumping on board the drone bandwagon.  It won’t be long before we see these devices in every major city, hovering above, promising protection from the bad guys and ensuring that if we should ever do anything out-of-line that we are being recorded.