Spy drones coming soon to a place near you.

For a long time now I have been giv­ing speak­ing out at con­fer­ences and in inter­views around the world about the encroach­ing nature of our sur­veil­lance states. 

One aspect of this, the endem­ic CCTV cov­er­age in the UK, is notori­ous inter­na­tion­ally. Not only the estim­ated 4 mil­lion+ pub­lic CCTV cam­er­as on Brit­ish streets, but also all the traffic cam­er­as and private secur­ity cam­er­as that sneak a peak onto our pub­lic spaces too.  As if that were not enough, earli­er this year it was also repor­ted that loc­al coun­cils are invest­ing in mobile CCTV smart spy cars too.

Addi­tion­ally, of course, we had the issue of Google Street View invad­ing our pri­vacy, and the cam­era cars also just happened to coin­cid­ent­ally hoover up the private inter­net traffic of those too trust­ing to lock their wire­less inter­net access.  Unlike the UK, the Ger­mans have thank­fully said a robust “nein” to Google’s plan.

All this, as I’ve pre­vi­ously noted, des­pite the fact that the head of the Met­ro­pol­it­an Police depart­ment respons­ible for pro­cessing all this sur­veil­lance inform­a­tion went on the record to say that CCTV evid­ence is use­less in help­ing to solve all but 3% of crimes, and those merely minor.  In fact, since CCTV has been rolled out nation­ally, viol­ent crime on the streets of Bri­tain has not notice­ably reduced.

But, hey, who cares about facts when secur­ity is Big Busi­ness?  Someone, some­where, is get­ting very rich by rolling out ever more Orwellian sur­veil­lance tech­no­logy. 

Talking_CCTV_CameraOn the streets of Bri­tain, it is get­ting pro­gress­ively worse.  Audi­ences across Europe and North Amer­ica have respon­ded with shocked laughter when I have men­tioned that police tri­als had been con­duc­ted in the UK using talk­ing CCTV cam­er­as that barked orders at appar­ent trans­gressors.

In 2007 Middles­brough, a town in the north east of the UK with a zero-tol­er­ance policy, began a tri­al using these talk­ing cam­er­as.  In line with a gov­ern­ment review of civil liber­ties this year, it was repor­ted over the sum­mer that the use of these cam­er­as might be phased out.  Need­less to say, the coun­cil is fight­ing a fierce rear­guard action against the remov­al of talk­ing CCTV — an obvi­ous example of the inher­ent dif­fi­culty of try­ing to wrest estab­lished power from the author­it­ies.

Then earli­er this year it emerged that vari­ous Brit­ish police forces and the Ser­i­ous Organ­ised Crime Agency (SOCA),  have ordered mil­it­ary-style drones to spy on the cit­izenry from the skies.  One drone man­u­fac­turer said that there had been enquir­ies about the poten­tial for mil­it­ar­isa­tion of these drones: thank­fully, his response was repor­ted as fol­lows in The Guard­i­an:

Military_drone“Mark Lawrence, dir­ect­or of Air Robot UK, said: “UAVs will, to an extent, replace heli­copters. Our air robots cost £30,000 com­pared with £10m for a fully equipped mod­ern heli­copter. We have even been asked to put weapons on them but I’m not inter­ested in get­ting involved in that.”

How­ever, Wired has repor­ted that “non-leth­al” weapons could be installed, to facil­it­ate crowd con­trol.

There is also the oth­er side of the secur­ity coin to con­sider, of course.  If these drones are imple­men­ted in the skies of Bri­tain, how soon before some enter­pris­ing young “Al Qaeda” cadre cot­tons on to the idea that this could be an effect­ive way to launch an attack?  So much for all our won­der­fully effect­ive air­port secur­ity meas­ures.

UK_Police_DronePlus, these little air­borne pests will prove to be a real haz­ard for oth­er air­craft, as has already been noted.

Des­pite all this, no wide­spread indig­na­tion has been voiced by the UK pop­u­la­tion.  When will the tip­ping point be reached about this incip­i­ent Orwellian night­mare?

But hope may be at hand.  A some­what frivol­ous art­icle appeared today, stat­ing that small spy drones will become the new paparazzi: Ver­sion 2.0, no doubt.

Per­haps, finally, we shall now see some mean­ing­ful oppos­i­tion to this encroach­ing Big Broth­er state. 

Once Bono, Sting, Saint Bob and the assembled celeb corps get on their high horses about their enshrined, fun­da­ment­al right to pri­vacy, it might finally become fash­ion­able to dis­cuss the very basic prin­ciples under­pin­ning our civil­isa­tion.….

.…you remem­ber, those fuddy-duddy ideas like the right to life, not to be tor­tured, not to be unlaw­fully imprisoned or kid­napped, free speech, fair tri­als, free con­science etc .…. oh, and pri­vacy of course!

Comments are closed.