Are Drones Going to Track you Now?
Your worst Orwellian nightmare might just become a reality very soon. George Orwell in his often-cited book, 1984, talks about small devices that fly around neighborhoods and peer into windows and this possibly will be the new face of America in a couple of years. And all this because of an aviation bill that requires the Federal Aviation Administration to integrate drones into the American airspace.
Rising concerns for privacy is a major issue in the country today and as the crowds are clamoring against SOPA and PIPA, there seems to be a new entrant in the scene – drones. They are coming to your town and city in hordes after serving their country heroically in conflicts abroad. And not only that, there are many new models on the anvil raring to go. The new mandate from the Congress instructs the FAA to relax its rules regarding the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and this means their greater use by both public agencies as well as the private sector.
A Dystopian Future
Federal agencies can now operate drones and by the end of 2015, commercial drones will be possibly swooping down your backyards. But the question is how far privacy will be compromised once these powerful machines start operating in the skies above. Drones can be as small as a bird and some can even go up to several feet with high-tech surveillance tools like video cameras and thermal sensors, Wi-Fi network hacking devices and equipment for cell-phone eavesdropping. Besides this, they are capable of hovering for hours far out of sight of the public. It seems that there is not much in the American law system to safeguard privacy and prohibit these from operating within the borders of the US. In fact, there’s a high probability that these will be eventually used for mass surveillance in a fast-changing scenario that’s becoming increasingly obsessed with security. Some experts have even cited scenarios where such drones might stare through windows and through walls in the near future.
The Present Backlash
This has led organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Electronic Privacy Information Centre to raise their concerns regarding the erosion of an individual’s private domain in the face of such military-grade technology brought into use in civilian life. But the most worrying part is that all this is happening in the name of protection of freedom whereas it will only eventually lead to violation of freedom.