The United States once said that the use of spy drones in war zones would remain the only place that they would be used. As many people suspected, the US moved to using drones on America’s borders and, slowly, have moved inland to be used on ordinary citizens. Naturally, privacy advocates continue to fight against their use, however, Victoria police in Australia have confirmed that they are assessing the use of unmanned drones in fighting crime, citing the United States’ push to use the drones in every day policing.
Police will not specify what roles drones would have in the force, but it is believed they could be used in surveillance and during car chases.
But the idea has alarmed civil libertarians who say drones could be used to track individuals who may not have committed any crime.
“They will be armed with technology that will enable them to identify individuals. So, for example, if the police wish to track a political demonstration, drones will not only be able to track where that demonstration is going but also to begin identifying the people who are members of that demonstration,” he said.
“Drones will be able to trace every movement of a person from the time they leave home in the morning to the time they get back home in the evening,” he said.
“They’re technologically sophisticated and carry great potential for tracking people who may not be involved in any sort of criminal activity.”
If Victoria police decide to go ahead and use this technology, it could have alarming consequences for everyday Australians. As citizens, they have a right to protest and demonstrate against their government as well as speak out against injustices. With the use of drones tracking their every move, many people will be too afraid to appear at a protest. While citizens most likely would not have to worry about “disappearing,” there are other ways the Australian government can convince a person not to protest.
If the drones follow a protestor home, it is trivial to then continue to track that person’s every move. In little time, the police will know the individual’s routine and can step up harassment. Under the guise of “we just have a few questions” the police can repeatedly visit the person’s place of employment. They can show up again and again at the grocery store or constantly have the drone show up at his/her home. Regular citizens will assume some sort of guilt because of the constant police and/or drone presence.
An unmanned drone regularly tracking an individual makes an effective weapon in forcing compliance by the state. The vast majority of the people will only go so far in protesting. Once the fear for life and livelihood are threatened, the government can and will control the population.