Monday, June 24, 2013

Send In The Drones

Much has been made in the popular media recently about the role of drones in state and federal law enforcement, from frenzied Orwellian overtones to more nuanced analyses. The fact of the matter is, surveillance, whether from drones or squad cars, choppers or planes, has been an ongoing occurrence for decades. Now with the installation of realtime phone cameras onto cheap RC drones and quick uploads to the web, the eyes that have always been there now seem omnipresent. Domestic weaponization is only a short time away, surely. We'll all be targets.

Well, I'm not quite ready to concede defeat to alarmists in this regard. As much as I disagree with the current administrations's handling of the "covert" foreign drone programs, I don't foresee a domestic analogue run by the CIA without Congress swiftly worked up into a lather (the FBI has conceded that they already run a domestic program, but they probably aren't going to start a drone Waco or Ruby Ridge anytime soon). And while Congress has traditionally been slow to adapt or adopt laws regarding new technologies, some states and localities are already drawing up bills to curtail or nearly ban blanket drone surveillance. Frankly, Cold War-era spy satellites have been doing a mighty good job at peeling away the layers of our domestic sense of security for decades, and we give them little or no thought. The very idea that the Eye in the Sky is within ear or eyeshot seems to give people the willies more than anything else. What would the neighbors think?

In Ether, our heroes face particularly nasty weaponized drones on a few occasions, with intrepid special agent Greg Mason literally engaged in a face-to-face encounter at one point. I don't expect to bring that scene to life anytime soon.
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