Nothing seems to be private anymore. Google street view, red light cameras, cell phones with built in video cameras … You better watch your behavior, because it’s very possible that someone is watching.
Thanks to the PATRIOT Act, the government can secretly spy on us, without a warrant. They can check our records, spy on us, find out what library books we’ve checked out, and peruse our browser history, in order to find information on possible terrorist attacks.
There has been quite a bit of debate on the proper role of government in the surveillance of citizens. Is it necessary for our protection, or was Ben Franklin right when he said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”?
Right or wrong, surveillance is about to be kicked up a notch. President Obama is expected to sign the FAA Reauthorization Act next month, which would allow the Federal Aviation Administration to “develop regulations for the testing and licensing of commercial drones by 2015.”
Drones are unmanned aircraft with video cameras that spy on bad people to try to find out what kinds of bad things they’re up to. We send tons of them to Afghanistan to gather intelligence on al Queda terrorists. We use them to monitor the borders, which is weird since we’re sending guns to the Mexican drug cartels with taxpayer money anyway, so why bother watching the borders?
Currently, the FAA issues certificates to the police and other government agencies licensing them to fly drones over the United States for specific missions, but they won’t disclose which agencies they are or their purposes.
Given that information, I’m inclined to applaud the development of commercial drones. The technology is already there, and it’s already being used to spy on citizens that the government believes to be a threat to national security. Why should the government have the exclusive right to fly drones?
Besides, the economy still sucks, and this opens up a whole new market for the aircraft systems industry. Think of all the jobs that will be created building, selling, flying, and repairing these things!
Privacy has changed. Cameras are everywhere, catching us running red lights, filming congressmen assaulting students, and taking down ACORN and NPR. If you don’t want to get caught doing bad things, don’t do bad things.
Image via zigazou76/Flickr