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Aussie Police Consider Using Automated Spy Drones

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the no-one-likes-to-underspend-a-budget dept.

Australia 113

beaverdownunder writes "Police in the Australian state of Victoria have confirmed that they are investigating employing unmanned drones in the war against crime, following the lead of law enforcement agencies in the United States, set to begin using drones as of tomorrow. This revelation has alarmed Australian civil libertarians, who fear that in a country with no constitutionally-protected civil rights, people could be surveilled for political reasons."

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Be Sure To Look Up While Down Under (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986473)

F1rst Pst!

Who said it is/should be a "war"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986483)

Well?

Re:Who said it is/should be a "war"? (1)

zzyzyx (1382375) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986791)

I agree that it's a worrying term to use. However it's not in the actual article, so it's just a case of bad editing, I guess.

Re:Who said it is/should be a "war"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39988611)

they are investigating employing unmanned drones in the war against crime, following the lead of law enforcement agencies in the United States

Hey, who says the USA doesn't export anything?!

Re:Who said it is/should be a "war"? (2)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986981)

Everything is a war. This way you cant oppose it without being 'unpatriotic' or 'against the children' called a 'terrorist' etc etc, and they get unlimited, perpetual funding.

Re:Who said it is/should be a "war"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39988513)

Everything is a war

This was my reaction as well. Given the failure of every "War on X" the government should abandon war as a response to each "crisis."

Re:Who said it is/should be a "war"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39992665)

Given the failure of every "War on X" the government should abandon war as a response to each "crisis."

If mere failure were a problem, governments would have ceased using the "War on X" meme years ago. Success or failure are not relevant goals; in fact, failure just means they get yet more funding approved to "clamp down". Getting funding to expand and consolidate the span of control of government is the goal. And that funding buys arms, security and police theatre, huge cash for contractors, and easy points for politicians. Joe Public is an idiot for whom the news is entertainment. He enjoys wars on things and failure can easily be spun away. In fact, the only time Joe really likes government is when it stages a war on something or other, preferably something that Joe can hate guilt-free: terrorists, drug dealers, pedophiles. Nothing unites all Joe Publics like a common enemy; they can luxuriate in hate and feel superior. Then Joe feels his government is "doing something". These government strategies represent the biggest failure of the idea of Western democracy because idiots vote with what passes for a brain.

It's an ironic war, too (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987189)

If we can have semi-autonomous drones to watch people who might steal things, why not just use the same robotic technology to make lots more stuff for everybody so less people feel a need to steal?

Re:It's an ironic war, too (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987459)

Robot =! Replicator

Re:It's an ironic war, too (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988397)

"High-Speed Robot Hand " http://www.hizook.com/blog/2009/08/03/high-speed-robot-hand-demonstrates-dexterity-and-skillful-manipulation?page=1 [hizook.com]

Or: http://econfuture.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/automation-links/ [wordpress.com]

And from there: http://singularityhub.com/2012/05/04/better-faster-and-cheaper-these-robots-are-invading-car-manufacturing-plants/ [singularityhub.com]

See especially from the last: http://singularityhub.com/2011/04/23/look-out-humans-this-frida-robot-from-abb-will-take-your-factory-job/ [singularityhub.com]

The income-through-jobs link that grants the right to consume (for those 99% without significant capital) is about to be severely stretched... Which was predicted decades ago (like in "The Triple Revolution Memorandum" from 1964).

Re:It's an ironic war, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39988549)

You are not thinking properly. Robots could solve all problems in any society. Then we could spend our days playing in the parks and our nights relaxing under the stars.

I wonder how easy it will be (2)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986559)

to shoot those out of the sky, shotgun? or rifle? or slingshot? or maybe a bolas to tangle rope or wire in to the props

disclaimer: this comment is for educational purposes only, do not try this at home

Boomerangs. It's Australia. (5, Funny)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986631)

>>I wonder how easy it will be to shoot those out of the sky, shotgun? or rifle?

They'll use boomerangs. Everyone in Australia is trained to use these from the age of two.

Disclaimer: My cultural intelligence is mostly the result of action cartoons from the 1980s.

Re:Boomerangs. It's Australia. (3, Funny)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986715)

They'll use boomerangs.

Stainless steel boomerangs - with razor sharp edges thrown by feral kids [youtube.com]

Re:Boomerangs. It's Australia. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39991803)

I see you've played knifey spooney before.

Re:Boomerangs. It's Australia. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987901)

Actually, as an Australian, I can confirm that all public school children are generally taught how to use boomerangs in infants/primary school [before the age of 12]. This was the case in the late 90's, and as far as I know, still is.

My grandpa taught me on the property when I was a kid, but they stopped hunting roo's before I was old enough to be taught how to use the rifles.

Re:Boomerangs. It's Australia. (1)

Whippen (2018202) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988363)

I learnt how to throw and catch them on grade 4 camp as well. Never had to use the skill since, though :(

Re:Boomerangs. It's Australia. (1)

ozduo (2043408) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988795)

what do Australians call a boomerang that doesn't come back? A stick!

Re:Boomerangs. It's Australia. (2)

barv (1382797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39990641)

What do we call a boomerang that doesn't come back? That is a successful hit.

Re:Boomerangs. It's Australia. (1)

HeadlessNotAHorseman (823040) | more than 2 years ago | (#39991967)

what do Australians call a boomerang that doesn't come back? A stick!

Technically a boomerang is any of a class of bent throwing sticks. They are not all designed to return to the thrower - the ones used as hunting weapons are thicker and heavier. The kink in the middle gives the stick an axis on which to turn, stabilising it and allowing it to be thrown further and with more accuracy.
The returnable boomerangs are curved on one side and flat on the other like an aeroplane wing.

Re:I wonder how easy it will be (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986757)

easy to just jam them,
you can build quite nasty (from a legal users POV) RF devices for the price of a car battery, a long wire fence (for an antenna) and 30 bucks of electronics, re-purposed microwave ovens can do some terrible things to the RF spectrum when (ab)used

but the citizens shouldnt have to do this in the first place, the police should be policing with the full approval and support of their communities, when societies fracture and become "us vs them" is when bad things happen

Re:I wonder how easy it will be (2)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988709)

when societies fracture and become "us vs them" is when bad things happen

Yes, they sure do. And when those bad things happen, why, of course the solution will be more government power and more funding for an increasingly paramilitary police force. If your idea is implemented, said RF devices will become illegal or (if already illegal) the laws against them will be strengthened. Of course those laws will be hard to enforce if you don't equip and train the police to catch people operating such devices, and make it easier for police to search for them. The War on (some) Drugs already established this pattern.

Does anyone still doubt this? The way dysfunctional government operates is that it either neglects a foreseeable situation until it becomes a crisis or it just straight up creates problems through its bureaucratic failures, and the solution is always more government. This one would be the latter case -- the drones are not the result of overwhelming popular demand that the politicians are responding to; it is a bureaucracy that insists on doing this anyway.

Government power is a great big hammer that gives a great big woody to those who wield it, and of course everything is a nail.

You know what a bicameral legislature should have been? One house creates laws and the other house repeals as many as possible, the result being that only the necessary ones are kept. Speaking of foreseeable situations, what happens when you have something like law that only ever expands and there is no reliable mechanism to make it contract? It collapses under its own weight, of course, and that's an eventuality. How foolish it is not to anticipate that, not to design legal systems that account for it!

Re:I wonder how easy it will be (1)

barv (1382797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39990729)

At least you are lucky to be in the USA where gun ownership is guaranteed by your constitution. I also note with approval that in some states citizens can reverse laws or sack governors (Schwarzenegger e.g.). Pity that those rules are not at Federal level either there or anywhere here. (Oz).

I have heard of two models that might serve to limit political power.

1. The Greek democratic model. Select a few hundred or a few thousand citizens by lot every two years, and tell them they gotta legislate for a couple years.
2. Require that every piece of legislation expire after ten years. If it is really necessary legislation, legislators will re-enact it every decade.

Re:I wonder how easy it will be (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986897)

do what everyone else does.
buy a jamming truck from the russians.

Re:I wonder how easy it will be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39990261)

considering that they fly at upwards to 35,000 feet, pretty freaking difficult.

what they really meant (4, Insightful)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986565)

Australian civil libertarians know that in a country with no constitutionally-protected civil rights, people will be surveilled for political reasons.

Fixed that for you.

Re:what they really meant (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39988575)

Australian civil libertarians know that in a country with no constitutionally-protected civil rights, people will be surveilled for political reasons.

What do you expect from a penal colony? Surveillance is the norm in prison and Australia is simply a nation-state penal colony with a bit of freedom tossed in to keep the 'mates from rioting on Saturday night. ;)

Re:what they really meant (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988645)

Your joke might be funny if you didn't post as an anonymous coward. As it is, you just sound like a dick. ;-)

Re:what they really meant (2)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988783)

Australian civil libertarians know that in a country with no constitutionally-protected civil rights, people will be surveilled for political reasons.

Fixed that for you.

That happens also in countries with constitutionally-protected civil rights. Really it happens anyplace where the highest penalty an elected official is likely to ever suffer is the loss of his job. That's really the problem with the American Constitution -- it is the highest law of the land, yet it has no severe criminal penalties for politicians who support unconstitutional laws. Start throwing abusive legislators in federal pound-you-in-the-ass prisons where the typically feeble old men will be somebody's bitch and suddenly abuses of power will become more rare.

You know, the same thing the rest of us are legally threatened with for doing much less damage to society than a legislature can do. Plus the beauty is, the more time politicians spend trying to prosecute each other, the less time they have to produce bad laws. And any successful prosecutions would function like term limits. It's really a win-win, unless you disagree with me that a lust for political power should make someone less privileged than the rest of society, not more.

Re:what they really meant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39990859)

The problem is that people think of a Constitution as a law. It is not a law. It is the basis on which laws are built. So the only penalty that can ever happen for a law breaching the constitution (and only laws can breach it - people can't), is to have the law in question declared null and void.

Re:what they really meant (5, Informative)

ixuzus (2418046) | more than 2 years ago | (#39989853)

Only in Australia there is constitutional case law saying that political free speech is implied by the constitution. There are three or four High court decisions I know of on the matter but probably the best known is Australian Capital Television Pty Ltd v Commonwealth. As the High Court interprets it, so shall it be. Granted, it isn't nearly as broad as elsewhere but it is there.

Re:what they really meant (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 2 years ago | (#39989881)

I hope you get modded up

Re:what they really meant (2)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39992331)

More interestingly than that, the argument against a bill of rights is not that it guarantees rights but that it limits them. You only get the rights as defined without a bill of rights all rights are yours and must be challenged in a court of law to take away any implied on non-limited rights. Bill of rights, these are you rights and not one bit more and we will use interpretive law and corrupted courts to limit them based upon wealth.

Re:what they really meant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39990913)

civil libertarians believe that in all countries people will be surveilled for political reasons.

That's the real truth.

Also, can we get over the "Australia has no constitutionally-protected civil rights" crap? Especially on an article that actually specifically mentions that the reason that Australia is thinking about it is because the _USA_ is already doing it. Where are your "constitutionally-protected civil rights" now?

civil rights don't matt (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986599)

in a country with no constitutionally-protected civil rights

Well, we have them here in the USA, but they make near to no difference whatsoever. We've built a government so big, with so much momentum and attracting so many power-hungry ppls, that it ignores civil rights when they are "inconvenient". Or it passes so many laws in so many ill-defined ways that everyone is guilty of violating them. Then if they don't like something or some group, it's just down to finding *which* laws they are breaking - because everyone is breaking some.

Civil rights only count to the extent that the citizenry defends them, and here, people generally do not. Whether they are written in a several hundred year old document, that doesn't matter. Ppl similarly do not defend against intrusive practices of big corporations. It's the same root cause: keep the people happy with bread and ci... err, Hollywood movies and Facebook, and they won't care about their rights.

Another story on the subject (2)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986603)

from the Age police may deploy spy drones [theage.com.au]
 
But what should be news for the US is that both stories point out that US police will start using drones this week. The only indication I have seen about this is things like: US police agencies to begin using drones within 90 days [bgr.com]

Re:Another story on the subject (4, Informative)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986653)

A better link about the US story (*)
 
  Drones with an eye on the public cleared to fly [nytimes.com]
 
(*) Why the fuck can't I edit my own posts? If you can track my karma, then you should be able to let me edit what I wrote. Sure it could be misused by trolls .. but on the whole it would make things easier by not having to reply to my own posts like this.

No editing of posts? (3, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986745)

Why the fuck can't I edit my own posts?

The motivations might be:

(1) To accurately preserve "history". To prevent you from hiding a statement you later regret.

(2) To encourage people to get their post right the first time since their errors will be preserved.

(3) It can destroy the context of followup posts. The followup may be referring to something deleted or corrected. This would encourage more data usage as followups are incentivized to includes quotes in case of future edits.

Re:No editing of posts? (2)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986783)

The motivations might be:

Then only let people with super high karma edit their own posts. Or make it so that they can only "Add" to their posts.

Re:No editing of posts? (2)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986877)

Then only let people with super high karma edit their own posts.

Sounds like a privilege designed to keep the top 1% in the top 1%. What could go wrong? ;-)

Or make it so that they can only "Add" to their posts.

A clearly labeled add/followup in the original would be good. It allows for clarifications and such. A far simpler chain of followups could result.

Re:No editing of posts? (2)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986973)

Most of the time I'd just want to add to my post in order to clarify things, so a timestamped addition would be good. However there are times when I screw things up even after reading and re-reading my post before committing. So perhaps a small time window for changes would also be desirable.
 
But anyway this is all just BS'ing .. /. won't listen to me. If they had listened to complaints then things like unicode would have be supported for a long long time.

Re:No editing of posts? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987469)

You can always

Re:No editing of posts? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987479)

Reply to your own posts

Re:No editing of posts? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987489)

It's a little slow

Re:No editing of posts? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987515)

So it pays to think ahead.

Re:No editing of posts? (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987521)

Burma Shave.

Re:No editing of posts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39989301)

Boy, I sure do love having hairy man-balls slap against my ass, how 'bout you?

Re:No editing of posts? (1)

oursland (1898514) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988607)

I'm not going to look for it, but there was a Reddit thread a couple years back where a person wrangled up 2000+ up votes for some mildly insightful comment. The next day he changed it to some racist remark, meaning (at the time) one of the highest voted comments on Reddit was blatant racism.

Re:No editing of posts? (1)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988829)

The motivations might be:

Then only let people with super high karma edit their own posts. Or make it so that they can only "Add" to their posts.

Proofreading (or not being sloppy, or whatever you care to call it) just isn't that hard. It's easier when you can touch-type. It's even easier still with a "Preview" button. It's also a damned good habit to cultivate.

Of course, easiest of all is blaming your failure to do so on a system that wasn't designed precisely the way you would have liked...

Re:No editing of posts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39989029)

Then what about amend?

in a country with no constitutionally-protected (2)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986647)

"in a country with no constitutionally-protected civil rights,"

I'm not quite sure what to make of that phrase. I live in a country where, in theory, I do have constitutionally-protected rights of privacy. In practice it is a completely different matter.

Re:in a country with no constitutionally-protected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986751)

This.

Our 'rights' granted to us by the state are not worth the paper they're written on as they can and often are ignored for "national security" or "operational reasons" and thats if you're even lucky enough to have the facilities available to take it through a court to get that conclusion. It means nothing. Our rights are voided quickly and easily.

I have lived in multiple countries, some with constitutions, some without and it appears to make no difference. Personally, I am more afraid of my privacy, security and safety being violated in the USA than in any other western country I have spent time in. It may be OK when you never leave your home town and know everyone around but there are many occasions where I have been heavily scrutinized by law enforcement for as little as not being from the area.

Re:in a country with no constitutionally-protected (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986943)

I know the US government is a favorite whipping boy here - and deservedly so, much of the time - but, in my opinion, the government wouldn't be able to get away with these sorts of shenanigans if a large enough portion of the population actually cared about this. Thing is, large segments of the US population seem to see nothing wrong with these activities. And, frankly, I don't think it's as simple as right versus left either - that just seems to affect which manner of curtailing one's civil rights that individual thinks is okay.

I'm not one of these people that thinks European countries and their citizens get everything right, far from it; but I do wonder if having a world war rage across your home turf makes you culturally more sensitive towards what can go wrong in your own back yard. Here in the US, we perceive threats as always being external - the internal threats don't seem to register.

Re:in a country with no constitutionally-protected (3, Informative)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987533)

I do wonder if having a world war rage across your home turf makes you culturally more sensitive towards what can go wrong in your own back yard.

Good point. The powers that be in the USA like to inculcate their population with a sense of trust in domestic institutions. And they don't like skepticism of the same. These principles are found in ideas of "institutional intelligence". That is: The group is smarter than the individual. This may be true for cases where members of the group independently arrive at a consensus. But it overlooks the susceptibility of the group to influence by self-appointed leaders. Some with their own self interest placed before that of the public. Europe has had recent history with such leaders and is in a better position to recognize them should they arise again.*

The study of social psychology [wikipedia.org] is more common in Europe than in the USA. One reason for that might be Europe's past experience with problems relating to group behavior. But its also due to the fear that American power brokers have with too close an inspection of their methods. One of the primary methods of dealing with dissent is to turn it into a "them vs us" fight. If you don't buy into the group philosophy without question, you must be an outsider. And by definition, a troublemaker. So, you are out of the group and the group, by definition, has no internal problems.

*Its interesting to note the corollary to Godwin's law: That a reference to Hitler automatically ends a discussion. In part, because often that's a sign that the discussion has descended to the level of being ridiculous. But also because Americans (in particular) aren't comfortable with the idea that they are being manipulated by their own leaders for other than the good of the group. And with this remark, I end the thread.

Re:in a country with no constitutionally-protected (1)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988919)

And with this remark, I end the thread.

Heh, not quite.

*Its interesting to note the corollary to Godwin's law: That a reference to Hitler automatically ends a discussion. In part, because often that's a sign that the discussion has descended to the level of being ridiculous.

Godwin's law is merely a heuristic, a rule of thumb. It should never be mindlessly and automatically applied. It's appropriate for most subjects but it makes no sense to pronounce a "Godwin" when the actual subject of discussion is out-of-control governments that become cancers to their nations. In that case, it would be foolish to disregard the history of such events.

The way it was done by Hitler is the same way it's always done. Only the fine details vary. You have a people who are broken in some way; with Germany it was the loss of the first World War, inflation of their currency, and the severe punitive reparations they were made to pay because of that war. That creates the vulnerability. Then an evil leader can give those broken people a phony sense of worth, usually by creating a national enemy for them to unite against; with Germany it was primarily the Jews. Exploit the "us vs. them" divide-and-conquer, implement a bit of Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis and accuse any dissenters of being unpatriotic. That's all it takes to have legions of people who will gladly die fighting your wars, just to finally feel like they're somebody, like they're part of something bigger than themselves. That's a need known only to isolated/alienated (in the Erich Fromm sense) egos, that mentally healthy populations don't have, by the way.

But also because Americans (in particular) aren't comfortable with the idea that they are being manipulated by their own leaders for other than the good of the group.

If it were for a True Good then it could be done openly with reason. That it is done covertly with manipulation tells you all there is to know about the nature of such leaders.

Re:in a country with no constitutionally-protected (1)

Purity Of Essence (1007601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988889)

Our 'rights' granted to us by the state ...

Constitutions don't work that way and it's dangerous to think they do. They do not empower citizens, they limit governments. Civil rights are inherent. If you don't understand that, you have already given up your freedom.

Re:in a country with no constitutionally-protected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987139)

Don't worry about your rights being protected in the USA, President Obama currently has your rights well protected. Military personnel at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base are guarding over them 24/7.

Re:in a country with no constitutionally-protected (1, Troll)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988599)

Cut Obama some slack, after all, he wasn't even born or raised in this country.

Re:in a country with no constitutionally-protected (0)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39989017)

Cut Obama some slack, after all, he wasn't even born or raised in this country.

And the fact that you would be instantly slandered and ostracised by so many people for bringing that up, tells you something about the truth of this.

The people who get all upset about that remind me of Nixon telling the nation "I'm not a crook!".

As far as I can tell, Obama's entire personal history is fabricated and we have no idea who he really is. That's why no one remembers him, why his Social Security number is from a different state than his birth certificate, why his birth certificate is from a state with an incentive to overstate its population, why all his associates have been Communists and violent Communists, etc. etc. The list goes on, and if you ask these questions or think there's anything fishy about multiple red flags, you're insulted, given a degrading label like "birther", and told to sit down and shut up.

And why is that? Because such an extreme level of deception coming from such high places in government just Couldn't Happen Here? Ever heard of the Big Lie? When dealing with a nation or other large group of people, a big whopper of a lie is easier for them to accept than a small lie or a series of small lies. Hitler himself said it best:

The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one.
-- Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

That is probably the single biggest weakness of the general population: they're naive. Hitler understood that they have no concept of how power-hungry sociopaths think. In their naivete, they assume that what they would or wouldn't do has any relation at all to what a sociopath would or wouldn't do. Therefore, as stated above, they tell little lies and wouldn't be surprised if others did the same, but they would be ashamed to tell a big lie and so assume no one else would. This is also called being self-centered, for it assumes others operate like you do, and it's just the sort of weakness tyrants prey on.

Re:in a country with no constitutionally-protected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39989967)

The DOJ is now suing Sheriff Joe Arpaio himself. It seems they're trying to silence him from criticizing the Obama. A very Orwellian quote regarding the case:

“The police are supposed to protect and support our community, not divide them,” said Assistant Atty. Gen. Thomas E. Perez, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division. “This is an abuse of power case involving a sheriff and a sheriff’s office that has ignored the Constitution.”

He didn't mention that Obama has been very divisive, by his racial politics for example. Obama has also abused his power and ignored the Constitution.

"The Obama Deception" [youtube.com] has become more credible the more Obama has proven himself to be a puppet.

Re:in a country with no constitutionally-protected (1)

hherb (229558) | more than 2 years ago | (#39989421)

It means that in Australia, the government doesn't even have to pretend to care about human rights

Re:in a country with no constitutionally-protected (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#39992819)

Devil's advocate: Aussies really don't give a flying fuck what's written in their constitution, we think and act like we have certain rights, therefore we have those rights. Ink on paper in the legal sense is soley for the purpose of binding people to an agreement, regardless of the fact that the weaker party may not even know or comprehend the contents of the articles that bind him.

It's also abundantly clear from our history and countless opinion polls that Aussie's do not want or need a '2nd amendment', I for one kinda like the fact that both our most popular and most reviled politicians can walk the streets or go for their morning jog without the aide of helicopter gunships and snipers on rooftops.

And if I haven't convinced you yet that we don't need this shit pot stirred then I invite you to come and visit, enter via Perth 'international' airport and compare it to the US airport you left behind.

War (3, Insightful)

Dzimas (547818) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986691)

"the war against crime?" That's like calling life "the war against death."

Re:War (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39989847)

"the war against crime?" That's like calling life "the war against death."

Screwing against virginity!

"Surveilled"? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986755)

What an obnoxious back formation. The word you are looking for is "surveyed".

Re:"Surveilled"? (2)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986911)

What an obnoxious back formation. The word you are looking for is "surveyed".

The verb form of surveillance is kinda weird given that it is a foreign word used in English. A quick google found What verb goes with surveillance ? [lonelyplanet.com] which suggests that the back-formation you are complaining about goes back to the 1960's, that the form is in both the OED and M-W dictionaries and that the BBC even uses it. One poster also disputes your suggestion of "survey" saying that:
 
'Survey' comes from the Latin for 'to see' - videre.
 
'Surveillance' comes from the Latin for 'to watch' - vigilare.

Re:"Surveilled"? (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986949)

Replying to myself .. I have been informed by a close source that surveillance is correctly a noun and not a verb. So to quote Calvin:

Verbing weirds language

Different than police helicopters with observers? (4, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#39986805)

From a *legal* point of view how is this different than helicopters with observers and video cameras?

I get the creepiness angle, you are far more likely to be "seen" when an expensive helicopter/crew is replaced with some number of drones. I just don't get the *new* legal issue. The police have been using that birds eye view for quite some time.

Re:Different than police helicopters with observer (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987227)

In the case of the internet, government says that communications technology has made existing laws insufficient, and it establishes new powers to maintain order; in this case technology has made existing laws excessive (it has not been normal to put a helicopter over every street to keep the peace "for quite some time"), and further limitations of government power are necessary.

Re:Different than police helicopters with observer (1)

ATMAvatar (648864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987933)

Precisely. Before much of our newer technologies, it was only feasible to place surveillance on a select few people, so the assumption was that law enforcement would make sure to get the right person to the best of their ability. It also took the approval of a number of people in the chain of command because of the resource usage, so there was at least some de facto oversight in place.

Now it is quite feasible to track everyone.

Re:Different than police helicopters with observer (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988761)

Now it is quite feasible to track everyone.

Drones are not autonomous. They have pilots who are on the ground instead of in the air. Lets look at the manpower it takes to track someone 24/7 from the air.
1. A pilot 24/7. Since no one can pilot an aircraft continually for 8 hours at a time the effecting length of a shift is 6 hours. That would mean 28 shifts per week divided by 5 shifts per office makes 5.6 FTEs
2. Drones need to be refueled/recharged so they have to be replaced on station.
3. These replacement drones have to be transported to and from the general area and managed while they are refueling/recharging. That is another 5.6 FTEs as they need 24/7 hour coverage and double the drones.
4. Drones wear out and sometimes crash die to mechanical and/or communication failure. Every flight is a risksome drones will be in for repair and there needs to be backups in case an operational drone goes down. Say an 80% up time for drones that means there needs to be 0.25 standby drones for ever operational drone.

Considering that it takes 11.2 officers, 2.5 drones and a non trivial amount of other hardware to tracks a single person the idea that they can track everyone is ludicrous and merely fear mongering.

Re:Different than police helicopters with observer (1)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 2 years ago | (#39989245)

Drones are and can be autonomous. You are just thinking of the current CIA ones like the predator. drone technology is not static, it is ever evolving and increasing in capability.

You do not *need* a human pilot at all times, computer autopilots have been around for ages.

Drones for surveillance can be told to just loiter around a specific spot with its cameras recording continuously on a specific area. If you want 24/7 coverage, have another drone take over when the first one gets low on juice.

Drones are capable today of loitering a few km away from you, unseen and unheard, with optics easily capable of reading the text message off your cellphone screen while you are tapping away outside. Optics like this have been around for decades.

Its only a matter of time before drones are small and cheap enough that you can have dozens of them flying around a city 24/7.

Advanced programmable surveillance on demand.

Privacy these days is a quaint idea that used to exist in the past.

Re:Different than police helicopters with observer (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39990479)

Care to provide a reference for autonomous drones? And by reference I mean make and model of a drone that actually exists or is even on the drawing board that is within the budget of a police department. As far as I can tell there are no autonomous drones that are anywhere within the budget of a Police Department to purchase one let alone hundreds of them.

Drones for surveillance can be told to just loiter around a specific spot with its cameras recording continuously on a specific area. If you want 24/7 coverage, have another drone take over when the first one gets low on juice.

Even is this is possible now there still has to be someone to watch all that video and find the important parts.

Drones are capable today of loitering a few km away from you, unseen and unheard, with optics easily capable of reading the text message off your cellphone screen while you are tapping away outside. Optics like this have been around for decades.

Reference please? I see no way a camera kilometers away can read test 1/4" high. Another issue is the the cell phone would have to be positioned exactly for the camera to see the text. Can you read the text through the back of the phone, side of the phone or through a person? It is hard enough for someone a few feet away to read someone else's test let alone kilometers.

Its only a matter of time before drones are small and cheap enough that you can have dozens of them flying around a city 24/7.

That may be true but what time period are we looking at? Five years? ten years? 30 years? The point is that right now authorities want to use a few drones that they can afford to replace expensive helicopters. Slippery slope arguments are invalid. There is no reason to stop something good happening now because in the future with many changes something bad might, may or possibly could happen. It is also possible that it will not happen and a good thing is squashed for no reason. If it is good now then do it. If things change in the future we can deal with it then.
How many times do people have to say this; There is not privacy from visual surveillance when in public.

Re:Different than police helicopters with observer (1)

Whippen (2018202) | more than 2 years ago | (#39989365)

Much more powerful equipment in the manned choppers though. The current fleet has FLIR, pilot NVG, high zoom cams - plus the whatever other gear they use which is not publicly acknowledged.

If you think a drone is capable of the same surveillance as a twin engine manned chopper, I think you need to do some research on how much decent gear weighs vs the payload of a small UAS.

Re:Different than police helicopters with observer (1)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39989345)

government says that communications technology has made existing laws insufficient, and it establishes new powers to maintain order

... which is the part that's bullshit, really. I have no intention of doing such a thing, but hypothetically speaking, if I were to trick you out of your bank account number, what difference does it make whether I do that face-to-face, over the telephone, or via e-mail? None whatsoever. Fraud is still fraud, even "with a computer". If someone were to break into your home, they are gulity of breaking-and-entering as well as trespassing. If someone were to brute-force your password and gain unauthorized access to your computer, they are committing the same crimes against your property.

No exotic new laws are needed to cover these things. The only reason it seems that way is because the government and the legal profession have a pathological, parasitic need to be needed.

Re:Different than police helicopters with observer (1)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#39991029)

The current laws were made way before the Internet and current electronic communication abilities were developed. Changes will need to be made to eventually address the relevant issues but it doesn't happen overnight. And in the US justice system even a judge can refuse to apply certain laws because if they don't really apply too any on-going litigations. This will cause the laws to be revisited to determine if they can exist in today's environment. Plus the US has a history of changing the laws and Bill of Rights if required.

Re:Different than police helicopters with observer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987415)

Drones are cheap.

Once it's cheap enough to spy on everyone. It will be done all the time instead of just when really necessary for a damm good reason.

Re:Different than police helicopters with observer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39988701)

From a *legal* point of view how is this different than helicopters with observers and video cameras? .

For a start, you could shoot one down without being charged for murder. Just sayin...

Re:Different than police helicopters with observer (2)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39989259)

From a *legal* point of view how is this different than helicopters with observers and video cameras? I get the creepiness angle, you are far more likely to be "seen" when an expensive helicopter/crew is replaced with some number of drones. I just don't get the *new* legal issue. The police have been using that birds eye view for quite some time.

I'm sorry but when (probably not "if") the USA becomes a totalitarian police state, it will be because so many people like you looked at each indicator in isolation and excused it this way, instead of looking at the cumulative total of hundreds of such indicators and realizing the picture they were painting.

What you're doing is like looking at two individual pixels of the Goatse image and saying "they're just dots of color, nothing obscene or distasteful about that" while ignoring the whole picture of which they are a part. It's a form of tunnelvision.

It's not your fault unless you decide at this point to excuse and defend it, at which point you would own it fully. I am hoping that instead you will disown it and see how the most innocent mistakes can have terrible consequences. Seeing that for yourself would be a good reason; because I or anyone else said so would be a terrible reason to do anything.

Re:Different than police helicopters with observer (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#39989895)

Helicopters are established in Australia. The funding, maintenance, legal use, hours of use, flight paths, sound issues - have all been set.
Drones offer some new flight school, maintenance training, legal frame works to be set up. Cash for sending staff to the USA, equipment from the USA, ongoing upgrades, more advisors and experts to upgrade the secret export quality optical and telco intercept, voice print systems used.
The political structure that made it all work is not forgotten.
New cash is flowing, to new players in different US states. i.e. the private drone universities in the USA want export $
24/7 day/night lets a drone circle a suburb and track anyone of interest, no matter how smart they are not using real SIMs/landlines, just a car and a voice print on record...

Drones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39986933)

"Unmanned drones... automated spy drones..."

Manned drones are called planes and non-automated ones are called model planes.

Let's see... (2)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987005)

in a country with no constitutionally-protected civil rights

Let's see what will happen if I write about drones in an obsolete dialect of English:

"An ability to uncover crimes, incidents, disasters and dangers, being necessary to the safety of a free people, the right of the people to keep and launch surveillance drones shall not be infringed."

Makes much more sense than a certain similar passage about weapons. One person's right is another person's reason to wear a tinfoil hat (and vice versa).

Global movement to totalitarianism (4, Insightful)

7-Vodka (195504) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987035)

Why won't you people wake up and realize that there is a GLOBAL movement towards totalitarianism?

Why do you keep turning the other way?

Australia, Britain, USA and many other countries are following the exact Standard Operating Procedure for taking a Free society and transforming it into a Totalitarian state.

Stop looking the other way. Start caring.

Re:Global movement to totalitarianism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987871)

You're clueless. Your observation isn't even slightly novel and is unspokenly obvious to everyone you address. While you presume to lecture us, the question that is on everyone else's mind, and that no one has an answer for is: "What are you going to do about it?"

When you catch up to the rest of us in developing your own jaded world views you can sit at the adult table. Right now you're in the middle of having naive spasms of confused and undirected angst, and nobody wants to listen to you embarrass yourself.

Please pay attention to the news a little better and learn how the FBI operates before you get yourself in a lot of trouble imagining yourself the hero of this story. Wisdom will teach you there is no simple answer that satisfies all constraints. You might rebuttal "then you have to sacrifice some constraints". But to reduce the specification far enough to present a simple answer, will leave you with a result which will not pass the test of a "better outcome than the present state".

Groups such as the Cult of the Dead Cow were once working on a better tomorrow by developing disruptive technology to counter the influence of totalitarian regimes. I don't know to what extent their efforts were influential, but it's conspicuous that none of the technologies developed by them are in widespread use. Maybe partially because of their cooperation with the FBI on Carnivore. Google "Digital Gold Currency" or "Assasination Market" to see how far the Secret Service and FBI will go to prevent a cypherpunk future from ever becoming a reality.

The most important lesson to take from that is that the implementation of tools such as encryption rely on assumptions about the adversary which are decreasingly true. 30 years ago, the 5th Ammendment might have protected you from a law enforcement officer wanting your encryption keys. Today, the police kill people in the streets on camera without fear of consequences. No more than yelling "Stop Resisting!" while delivering the fatal blows to a child is enough to satisfy an internal affairs investigation of "justified force consistent with training and procedures".

Judges are happy to let you rot under contempt of court if you refuse to remember your forgotten encryption keys, and with the TSA and Border Agents seizing laptops at their discretion, the 4th Ammendment is as good as dead.

In a battle of resources, the government will pay your bills if you are willing to join a militia or a radical Mosque and incite conspiracy charges against the ones stupid enough to complain about being too poor to by groceries. A college drop-out can get a badge and steal 7-Vodka's fiance by being willing to troll slashdot looking for naive 15-25 year olds who are upset their "representatives" in Washington DC are writing checks against their retirement.

So your advice is "Stop looking the other way. Start caring."? How fucking original. Maybe we should form a militia. Will you lead it Enjolras?

Wake me up when the baby-boomers are finished trying to squeeze blood out of turnips with handcuffs. They're scared their social security will never deliver as promised and they'll support any war on anything to make sure they aren't the last ones to pay in to the ponzi scheme.

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard."
H. L. Mencken

I've seen how this ends... (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987081)

A hillbilly lawyer with a shotgun(or the Aussie equivalent) shoots one down, has her day in court, and wins.

Re:I've seen how this ends... (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987351)

Win what? Legalization of destruction of government property on the ground that he claims airspace above his head up to the distance to the Moon?

to the moon alice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987945)

"to the moon alice" didnt ya ever hear that phrase.....

The Arsenal of Freedom (1)

kawabago (551139) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987367)

Star Trek: The Next Generation episode 20 The Arsenal of Freedom The entire population of the planet is destroyed by their own automated weapons system.

open season (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987449)

Year 2014 is the start of open season to hunt drones.

Seriously all we need to do is have a drone fall on a school. Everyone will hate drones. Problem solved.

Were as here ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987573)

... in the USA, we can only be surveilled for economic reasons.

If you are upsetting the rich folks, or you've got something they think is theirs, or that they want, you're a target. Otherwise, we can't be bothered to deal with you.

australian people has no common sense... (0)

phurry (2637955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39987625)

If they are so worried about their rights now, what about their rights being taken when the commonwealth banned and confiscated their firearms? Seems to me, the issue of rights started down the slippery slope way back then.

Re:australian people has no common sense... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39989799)

Firearms are not banned in Australia..
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-11-12/gun-ownership-on-the-rise/3662504

At last count there are about 2.7 million for the 20 million population. A per capita level that puts it at around Mexico's level. A country that you could hardly argue has destroyed all its guns. However
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_guns_per_capita_by_country

  However its gun crime/injury rates are approximately 10 times less than US or Mexico despite having ~1/4 of the pp to gun ratio. Meaning Australia seems to have pretty effective laws and stupid people don't tend to own guns (not legally anyway) or use them to hurt people.

Australia has similar laws to most states in the USA. You can't own and fire a machine gun, you can own a pistol, you can own rifles, even high powered ones (pretty much everything under .50 cal BMG including the necked down ones).

Gun ownership is not the issue here. Do you really think you could turn around an oppressive government with gun ownership. Did it work in Zimbabwe?

and farscape becomes nearscape (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39987765)

i heard john crihton has a pea shooter and intends to shoot them down or was that dargo with his tongue.

Tin foil rules (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39988775)

The word "automated" in the title has no use at all. Automation generally means to operate with as little human input as possible. All drones have a pilot and sometimes a separate camera operator. All a drone does is move the crew from inside the aircraft to on the ground.

The whole debate of drones being able to track an identifiable person at a protest is also bunk. Here are how individuals can be tracked without drones today;
1. From a helicopter (that could be described as a manned drone>
2. From rooftops
3. From the ground by following
4. From light pole mounted camera
5. From store mounted camera
There is no expectation of privacy when on the streets. All a drone does is make it less expensive to have an eye in the sky. Helicopters are very expensive to operate. Perhaps the savings can go into more police to investigate lesser crimes.

To the slippery slope "it could be used to peak into ours homes" people; by that logic police should not have guns because they could be used to shoot people that disagree with the government. I agree that the laws dealing with how drones are used should be very strict and may already be covered by existing privacy laws. What I don't agree with is to deny the use of a tool because it could be misused. Any tool can be misused but the benefits must be weighted beside the risks. For example, most police officers do not have automatic rifles as they are too powerful for standard use but they do have pistols even though both can kill people.

A drone is just a tool, like a helicopter or police car, to be used for the safety of people.

By the year 2500... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39989785)

Globecorp will have its headquarters in Australia equiped with all the drones it needs.

War against what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39990869)

100% probability that the drones will be used to enforce speed limits.
After all, the police will have to justify the cost of their new toys with a bump in the detection rate for some category of "crime".

We have them? (1)

PuZZleDucK (2478702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39991347)

Civil libertarians... We have them do we? ... Since when?

Automated != unmanned (1)

jaxxa (1580613) | more than 2 years ago | (#39991715)

The article indicates, and most UAV's are remotly controled by a human operator. The title says Automated implying that the drones will fly by themselves.

Misconceptions. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39992909)

Ok, let me clear up some misconceptions seeing as I was working for a vendor involved in the exploratory process of this whole thing:
- These are not fully automated, they have human controllers.
- The main use-cases that needed be demonstrated was surveying sites for the purposes of crowd control and disaster response, an eye-in-the-sky, not wholesale surveillance. These are cheaper to run and purchase than traditional rotatory and fixed wing aircraft.
- The numbers they want are low, not hundreds and probably not dozens and dozens either, because frankly, they are still quite expensive (5 figures). They'll probably start with just a few.
I would tell you more, such as the technical limitations that make these units unsuitable for wholesale surveillance, but I would be breaching an NDA. I'd be more concerned about wholesale telecommunication surveillance than this sort of thing.
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