By Delilah Gray
Mid-October, a civilian-held panel voted on whether or not the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) could fly drones around, surveilling the streets. You know what the crazy part is? The vote ended up in favor of the usage of drones by 3-1. The LAPD now can send out drones to watch over neighborhoods in order “to cut down crime.” While we live in a society where social media reigns over personal space, we still possess the concept of privacy.
Since people like to wave the Second Amendment around like devil may care, why are they conveniently forgetting the Fourth Amendment? You know, the right of privacy?
The LAPD claims they will have tight restrictions in every aspect of the drones like when to fly it, who’s flying it and the ramifications of it all. For example, facial recognition technology will be prohibited, they will only use it for high-sit risk situations and it will only be handled by officers with extensive training. While they seem like they have everything thought out and under control, it causes a huge ethical dilemma for the already dwindling trust in the police versus people dynamic. In countless other countries, flying a drone too close to people or a landmark ends you up in prison. For example, according to CNBC, a man in the U.K. was charged with flying a drone too close to Buckingham Palace. Yet we can have drones in the U.S. fly anywhere they want if they classify it as “high risk?”
While the civilians on the panel claim they’re okay with the police surveilling their neighborhoods, they are the minority of this situation. What few claim as imperative to our safety is just giving the public more reason to feel less safe in such vulnerable situations. Studies from PewInternet show 88 percent say it is important that they do not have someone watch or listen to them without their permission and 90 percent say that controlling what information is collected about them is important. The LAPD is making those fears come true for these people.
I believe this situation is the definition of an insane violation of privacy. While it’s a one-year test, it will cause nothing but problems toward a part of our country that is already vastly mistrusted, especially with police officers within it. The ethical dilemmas start with the basis of a pure lack of mistrust, as the Los Angeles residents won’t feel any sort of comfort when they’re walking down the street anymore. While the intention is to cut down on crime, I think it’ll only rack up the public’s paranoia.
The fact is that there’s been an overwhelming number of accounts where drones come too close to people, high-profile buildings and airplanes to the point that it’s considered illegal in other countries. What’s considered a lack of privacy and intrusion in other parts of the world is necessary in Donald Trump’s America.
Even though we already live in a country that eroticizes the thought of military being the primary focus, it’s now leaking into the state factors. The devil’s advocate on the LAPD controversy stemmed from the devotees to the police and those who find militarized action necessary in everyday living. I believe this is only the beginning of the militarization of police if we let it keep going any further. The common fear lies in the “unwarranted surveillance or fears of militarized, weapon-toting devices patrolling the skies.” This is the “land of the free” not the land of only being free when you get back to your house.
At the end of the year-long program, commissioners will review how the drones were used and decide whether to continue. And after that year, I don’t see it ending in anything other than another reason to start a revolution for the sake of the people and their privacy. It’s ironic – they claim they want to crack down on crime by invading our privacy, yet they’re still not doing anything about the increasing gun violence.
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