The coronavirus pandemic has given rise to a new method of government surveillance — pandemic drones.
Governments all around the world have been using drones for a variety of reasons. Firefighters use them to get a birds-eye view of a fire. Drones may be used to monitor traffic or provide rescuers with a better perspective of an accident scene.
Only recently have drones been used to simply monitor the movement of innocent civilians. Some drones even have the ability to monitor someone’s basic vitals from above.
This poses grave privacy concerns. Who is in control of the data gathered by these drones? Where does that data go and who has access to this rather private information. Furthermore, some say this type of monitoring of innocent civilians infringes on our Constitutional rights.
China “Donates” Drones to the US to Help Combat COVID Pandemic
How convenient, the Chinese government has now donated drones from manufacturer DJI. Located in China’s version of Silicon Valley, Shenzhen, DJI builds complex drones capable of not only monitoring people but gathering data as well.
In the data-centric age we live in the question quickly becomes — not only where is that data going but who is in control of it. In lieu of the recent data privacy concerns surrounding cell phone manufacturer Huawei, there are serious concerns surrounding data gathering using this DJI drones.
According to Fox News,
In early February, the Interior Department issued a no-fly order many thought was aimed at China. The directive, which followed a temporary one issued in 2019, grounded all of the department’s drone fleet following concerns that the devices could be used for government and commercial espionage. Interior officials told The Wall Street Journal that all of the department’s 800 drones had either been manufactured in China or made with Chinese parts.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said while the government would make some exceptions for drones – search-and-rescue operations as well as those involving emergencies where human lives are in danger – he directed U.S. officials to favor domestically made ones out of concern that data collected by aerial drones could be “valuable to foreign entities, organizations and governments.”
The use of drones by emergency personnel and first responders proves to be very beneficial. However, it is imperative that we concern ourselves with the possible ramifications if we continue to forego our constitutional rights in the name of greater “security”.
Drones are no longer just being used to survey emergency scenes — they are quickly becoming tools used to track the citizenry. As technology advances and they begin to detect and amass our personal data it becomes a grave threat to the country as a whole.