Wary of Mass Surveillance and Privacy Risks, New Group Wants St. Louis "Drone Free"

Categories: Police, Politics

I'd say that when I first heard rumors that Glenn Greenwald was saying that the government is watching our emails, I said 'no, that's a gross exaggeration, that couldn't be possible.' And I think that as things develop politically and culturally, what's happening on the cutting-edge always seems like it's not going to go mainstream. But we've seen this problem for quite some time and anybody who sits down and studies what's been going on with the NSA and the history and technology of what's been happening with surveillance will realize that this is a trend that's really moving very quickly in a certain direction.

One of the phrases that the police are now using is "intelligence-led" [also known as "hot spot"] policing. For many years, we've had community-oriented policing. And that still exists to some extent. But it's being subsumed by this new phrase and new concept of "intelligence-led" policing. And some departments are really moving in the direction of more and more data collection and the drones are really a part of that.

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Chief Sam Dotson/Twitter
Chief Dotson is a big proponent of drones and "intelligence-led" policing.

Drones flying around watching our every move might sound scary, but St. Louis City Police Chief Sam Dotson says they keep us safer. He told the Post-Dispatch last year that, "This isn't Big Brother. This is a decision to make everyone in the community safer." What would you say to him?

See also: Chief Sam Dotson, Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce Support Use Of Drones In Police Chases

That's always the pitch that we hear. There's the famous Ben Franklin quote that people who give up their liberty for safety deserve neither. What we've found is that we have been scared by a media push and a government push to feel like there are problems around the corner that we need protecting from them. But in my mind, Americans have always been a freedom-loving people and freedom involves certain risks and we've been willing to take those risks. I think if you have a realistic sense of the risks and a realistic sense of what we're giving up to try and protect ourselves against those risks, you'll see that we've gotten way out of balance.

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Wikimedia/Quevall

What else do you want to tell St. Louisans about drones and mass surveillance?

Since street surveillance cameras started taking pictures of us on public streets we've developed an attitude that we have no expectation of privacy. To some extent, that's the current state of the law. But the Supreme Court has hinted in a recent case about GPS tracking that they're open to looking into the law and bringing it up to date for 21st century technology.

I think it's important to realize that we don't really expect that we're being watched 24/7, that the data is collected and stored for an indeterminate amount of time, and that anybody and everybody can have access to that information. So I do think there's an expectation of privacy that's being violated if we don't update our laws and put some safety regulation in place. Because what he have now is no regulation on any of those things: who has the data, how long is it kept, who has the access to it.

Follow Ray Downs on Twitter:

E-mail him at Ray.Downs@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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23 comments
alsmalibu
alsmalibu

yes the gov. has become too powerful. it can kill citizens when ever it wants to in any country it wants , and it can d biological / chemical warfare experiments on anyone , and has done so causing many in north st. Louis to get cancer, this they admitted to back in the nineties..

Michael Mytzlplyk
Michael Mytzlplyk

Here's an idea. How about using the money that would be invested into drones, be used in hiring actual police officers. That way, instead of watching crime happen, they can actually prevent it by presence in the first place ?

Brandon Herges
Brandon Herges

Everybody who thought the government spied on everything everybody does and stored it was really paranoid and a loon, too. One thing I've come to learn about government is "If it sounds too bad to be true, it probably is true."

zenitin
zenitin

"Begun! The Drone Wars Have."
--Yoda

Adam Usher
Adam Usher

This group seems really paranoid. And why they bringing MLK into this? Drones are already here. No one up high in the government food chain will have issue with privacy until it catches them in their underwear bringing the trash out of the house.

Terry Cagle
Terry Cagle

why would anyone think this is a good idea??

Stu Katz
Stu Katz

Maybe the black on black crime rate would go down, if the police had more sets of eyes. The problem of "no one" witnessing a crime just might not be as big an issue.

Justice Rising
Justice Rising

hahahah, i can see these drones being shot down by local gang members. lmfao

Adam Usher
Adam Usher

There already using them in STL. Saw one at the Balloon Glow.

Shawn Smith
Shawn Smith

There's no way law enforcement would use these drones to peek through 2nd floor windows to get a few vicarious thrills, right?

Jimmie Thomptson
Jimmie Thomptson

since it's against the law to warm our cars up because there is people waiting outside to steel our cars, I say we need to army in the streets to protect us...

Robert A. West
Robert A. West

If it can be shown that they have a real impact on crime, then I'm fine with this. As it is, when you're out in public, there's already always the possibility that someone's watching you and videotaping you on a cell phone. The government is already storing everything I do on my own phone and online. The truth is privacy as it existed 15 years ago and before is simply not a thing anymore, and if anyone thinks it ever will be again, then they are naive in my opinion.

Andrew McKay
Andrew McKay

In high crime areas it may be a good idea

Ricky Nelson
Ricky Nelson

all I want to know is how high they fly? Is it low enough to shoot at them? Skeet shooting finally comes to the hood.

Thee Lovingcup
Thee Lovingcup

Like anyone would be looking at the cameras 24/7 to prevent crime. Not to mention the obvious temptation for abuse. I'm pretty sure there are cameras in Antonio French's ward but no police watch them...

Joe Black
Joe Black

As long as we have the right to hunt them like other fowl.

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