Dystopian panopticon becoming the norm
Police in a small Ohio town responded to a disturbance involving an inebriated armed man by sending in two spy drone robots. When the man shot one of the droids, he was charged with vandalism of government property.
The incident occurred in Waverly, Ohio last week when officers were called to the scene after neighbours reported hearing gunshots from inside Michael Blevins’ home. Blevins had also allegedly threatened several people, and was thought to have more firearms inside.
When the man refused to answer the door to police, WBNS 10TV news reported that they called for assistance from the Ohio Highway Patrol’s Strategic Response Team.
The response team arrived on the scene and sent in two surveillance robots; one to locate the man, and another to locate his firearms.
Blevins reportedly shot one of the robots with a pistol, rendering it damaged. Police then entered the house and managed to subdue him with a taser. The entire standoff lasted six hours.
After obtaining a search warrant, officers found two AK47 rifles and a prohibited 75-round ammunition drum. Aside from the vandalism charge, Blevins was charged with unlawful possession of a dangerous ordinance. Under Ohio law, ammunition magazines can not exceed a 30-round capacity.
The most interesting aspect of this incident is obviously the drone factor. Police all over the country are now employing what are essentially military technologies, which is causing concern for privacy advocates.
In the case of Michael Blevins, sending in drones was a last resort. But what happens as this becomes the norm for police in similar situations?
Law enforcement departments everywhere are adopting drones, facial recognition software, mobile iris and face scanners, microphones that record city-wide conversations, street lights that spy on you, and automated license plate readers, to name but a few of the new privacy busting gizmos.
Of particular concern, however, are the gizmos that are designed to enter people’s homes.
Just last November, a different Ohio police department proudly paraded their newly acquired $11,000 RoboteX AVATAR Micro surveillance robot (as seen below), promising to make it a permanent member of the department’s SWAT team.
Deployment of this kind of technology by police exactly mirrors what was envisaged in the futuristic police state outlined by the inimitable Philip K. Dick in Minority Report:
The fact that this kind of technology now exists and is being adopted for real by police, as is pre-crime technology for that matter, should set alarm bells ringing.
With Department of Homeland Security ‘Fusion Centers’ in every city, and DAPRA’s Total Information Awareness program alive and well, it is clear that the surveillance state is reaching a new degree of advancement.
DARPA itself continues to fund this advancement, helping create drones that can literally fly into buildings through windows and autonomously dodge obstacles.
As we have previously reported, the DHS is also customizing military predator drones for domestic surveillance, and actively loaning them to law enforcement agencies.
The next generation of surveillance drones being developed under DARPA, will be fitted with technology known as the Area Persistent Stare, and will literally be able to surveil entire cities at once in real time.
Little wonder then that a significant backlash against drones is picking up pace in America.
Recent victories for anti-drone activists who have pushed for legislative bans in their cities and states shows how such surveillance over reach can be effectively countered at the local and state level. Those who have any value for privacy should consider joining the push back against the surveillance state before it is too late.
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