Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Australia Government Privacy Technology Your Rights Online

Aussie Police Consider Using Automated Spy Drones 113

Posted by timothy
from the no-one-likes-to-underspend-a-budget dept.
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."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Aussie Police Consider Using Automated Spy Drones

Comments Filter:
  • by FudRucker (866063) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @12:33PM (#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
    • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @12:41PM (#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.

      • by OzPeter (195038) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @12:57PM (#39986715)

        They'll use boomerangs.

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

      • by ozduo (2043408)
        what do Australians call a boomerang that doesn't come back? A stick!
        • by barv (1382797)

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

        • 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.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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

      • by causality (777677)

        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 a

        • by barv (1382797)

          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 cou

          • by causality (777677)

            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.

            I'm a fan of both. I love the Athenian idea that every citizen (well, back then every male citizen) was expected to be ready and able to assume public responsibility at any given time. They didn't have career politicians, and the career politician is the number one threat to freedom in Western society. There's no real incentive to campaign or to manipulate when you didn't ask to be there and will only serve one term. Not having a bunch of lawyers writing the laws would also mean that the law will be eas

    • by phrostie (121428)

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

    • That's so 19th century.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NSQOMUm1C1M [youtube.com]

  • by wealthychef (584778) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @12:34PM (#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.

    • by causality (777677)

      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 somebo

    • by ixuzus (2418046) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @07:25PM (#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.
      • I hope you get modded up
        • by rtb61 (674572)

          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.

          • by causality (777677)

            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.

            The US Founding Fathers had the same debate. The products of that debate were the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 13, 2012 @12:37PM (#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.

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @12:37PM (#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]

    • by OzPeter (195038) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @12:44PM (#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.

      • by perpenso (1613749) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @01:01PM (#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.

        • by OzPeter (195038)

          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.

          • by perpenso (1613749)

            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.

            • by OzPeter (195038)

              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.

          • by oursland (1898514)
            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.
          • by causality (777677)

            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...

          • by doston (2372830)

            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.

            But then what about your posts? ;-)

  • "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.

    • by hherb (229558)

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

      • 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'
        • by hherb (229558)

          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.

          Nice thoughts, but I have been living in this land of Oz for the past 15 years, so no invitation required. I have diligently avoided all US airports ever since they invaded Iraq and embarked on this totalitarian downward spiral, though I miss my trips to conferences in beautiful Hawaii and Florida a bit. While I agree that Aussie international airports are still more pleasant places to enter a country than US international airports, both are rather unpleasant places compared to the majority of Asian and Eur

  • War (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dzimas (547818) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @12:52PM (#39986691)
    "the war against crime?" That's like calling life "the war against death."
    • by roman_mir (125474)

      And in this war against death we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender; we shall kill all enemies, domestic and foreign.

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

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      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'

      • by OzPeter (195038)

        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

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @01:08PM (#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.
    • 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.
      • by ATMAvatar (648864)

        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.

        • by jklovanc (1603149)

          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 t

          • by ThePeices (635180)

            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 ca

            • by jklovanc (1603149)

              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 k

        • by Whippen (2018202)

          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.

      • by causality (777677)

        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

        • 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

    • by causality (777677)

      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 wh

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      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 flo
  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Sunday May 13, 2012 @01:31PM (#39987005) Homepage

    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).

  • by 7-Vodka (195504) on Sunday May 13, 2012 @01:34PM (#39987035) Journal

    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.

  • A hillbilly lawyer with a shotgun(or the Aussie equivalent) shoots one down, has her day in court, and wins.
    • by Alex Belits (437) *

      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?

  • 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.
  • ... 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.

  • 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 roofto

  • Civil libertarians... We have them do we? ... Since when?
  • 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. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    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 prob

The cost of feathers has risen, even down is up!

Working...