ARGUS drone surveillance system
Drones have been in the media a lot lately, and last month the NOVA documentary Rise of the Drones showed some of the recent advancements that these flying robots provide the military and civilians alike. While the technological advancements are impressive, the ACLU warns that a 'nightmare scenario' could be unfolding, and that one particular piece of technology showcased in the documentary could be just the start of such a future.
ARGUS is a new camera technology which allows a drone to use a large quantity of small cameras together, in order to create a giant picture with very good resolution. By using all of these cameras, it means that a single drone can zoom in to multiple points at once. It can, in essence, spy on an entire city block and record what everyone does in real time, down to a few feet. Of course, privacy advocates often warn of such things as potentially damaging for our expectation of privacy, but ARGUS in particular is making some people nervous since it allows such a wide range of surveillance over long periods of time.
While spying on public streets may not seem like a big deal to some, the ACLU post goes on to say that this may well be a first step in the 'nightmare scenario' of drones. This is a concept where drones would become so cheap to make and utilize that they would become the de facto standard, replacing fixed cameras, in order to provide a continuous surveillance state over every city in the country. Once that's done, then law enforcement could arm these drones and use them to apprehend people from the air, similar to what the military does in other countries. While we may still be a long way from that, the ACLU post is a good reminder that such technology can lead to a slippery slope.