Futurismic readers resident outside the UK may wonder why exactly it is that I keep battering on about the omnipresent surveillance systems that are saturating this silly little island. After all, if I’m not doing anything wrong, I should have nothing to fear, right?
Well, if believing that helps you sleep at night, then you carry on. In the meantime, I hope you’ll not object to me becoming steadily more nervous about such systems being put into the hands of a clueless, corrupt bureaucracy of a government. Am I overstating the case here? I don’t know – but how would you feel if you heard your police force were investing in the same sort of UAV surveillance drones that have proven so popular with the “peacekeeping” forces currently stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq?
Better yet, wait until you hear exactly what they want them for:
… for the ”routine” monitoring of antisocial motorists, protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers, in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance.
I suppose we should at least be grateful that the ubiquitous yet hollow catch-all of “terrorism” doesn’t turn up in that list. But there’s more:
… the partnership intends to begin using the drones in time for the 2012 Olympics. They also indicate that police claims that the technology will be used for maritime surveillance fall well short of their intended use – which could span a range of police activity – and that officers have talked about selling the surveillance data to private companies. A prototype drone equipped with high-powered cameras and sensors is set to take to the skies for test flights later this year.
The Civil Aviation Authority, which regulates UK airspace, has been told by BAE and Kent police that civilian UAVs would “greatly extend” the government’s surveillance capacity and “revolutionise policing”. The CAA is currently reluctant to license UAVs in normal airspace because of the risk of collisions with other aircraft, but adequate “sense and avoid” systems for drones are only a few years away.
I try very hard to keep Futurismic free of my soap-boxing these days, and I hope you’ll accept my apologies if this post has bored, baffled or offended you. But Futurismic‘s also the biggest soap-box I have access to, and I honestly believe this sort of creeping totalitarianism must be called out in public at every available opportunity. Governments that profess to be democracies should remember that respect is a two-way street. [image by ebrkut]