“If you’re concerned, maybe there’s a reason we should be flying over you”

Eric Garland Uncategorized 5 Comments

There is a whole industry propping up around surveillance by drone aircraft. Naturally, it started with America’s wars of adventure in Central Asia, providing reconnaissance without risking the lives of pilots, but has quickly morphed into a nice growth market for keeping watch over Americans in their own back yards. This article from the Star Tribune illustrates not only the degree to which aerial surveillance could change American life, but the mindset of the people making a profit off this industry.

In five days, Unmanned Applications Institute International, which provides training in operating drones, can teach a cop how to use a drone the size of a bathtub toy.

“If you’re concerned about it, maybe there’s a reason we should be flying over you, right?” said Douglas McDonald, the company’s director of special operations and president of a local chapter of the unmanned vehicle trade group. “But as soon as you lose your kid, get your car stolen or have marijuana growing out at your lake place that’s not yours, you’d probably want one of those flying overhead.”

No, you dick. Perhaps if Americans are concerned about a culture of constant, warrantless, reasonless, thoughtless police surveillance, perhaps we’re just keeping watch over liberty, a value we’ve been told eight billion times is what separates us from, say, North Korea. And besides, who is the “we” in “we should be flying over you?” You’re an aeronautics company trade group, but all of the sudden you invite yourself into a position of authority over all Americans, criminal or innocent – because you run an association of companies that profits off of this? When were you elected emperor, exactly?

The loss of privacy will be, in many ways, inevitable as we can capture more information, more cheaply. We’ve already seen a great deal of this between camera surveillance and voluntary sharing via Facebook and other social media. The disturbing part of this is the permanent shift of power toward presumed authority figures. In the United States we already have a Supreme Court supporting the rights of police and military power at every turn. The people who work at those institutions appear to be getting all-too-comfortable with the powers afforded to them, such that even trade group bureaucrats think that they are somehow in charge over the rest of us.

And that’s the thing we need to watch out for -two classes of people, wolves and sheep.