April 1, 2013
Does anyone else feel as though a majority of Americans are unenthusiastic about living in a surveillance state yet rapidly resigning themselves to the inevitability of living in a surveillance state? This is partly due to the proliferation of smart phones with cameras and the expectation of Google Glasses in our near future. Even excepting all government surveillance, the average American enjoys much less anonymity in public than they once did, and the trend is only intensifying.
But domestic drones used by police agencies pose an unprecedented threat to privacy rights. As the ACLU puts it, “The prospect of cheap, small, portable flying video surveillance machines threatens to eradicate existing practical limits on aerial monitoring and allow for pervasive surveillance, police fishing expeditions, and abusive use of these tools in a way that could eventually eliminate the privacy Americans have typically enjoyed in their movements and privacy.”
Adds Glenn Greenwald, “The belief that weaponized drones won’t be used on US soil is patently irrational. Of course they will be. It’s not just likely but inevitable. Police departments are already speaking openly about how their drones ‘could be equipped to carry nonlethal weapons such as Tasers or a bean-bag gun.’ The drone industry has already developed and is now aggressively marketing precisely such weaponized drones for domestic law enforcement use.” I fear he’s right. How would the Branch Davidian standoff play out if it occurred five or ten years from today?