Drones and Social Privacy (Revision)

Posted on April 22, 2011


“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

– Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Big brother is watching you and Twitter is heating up over the use of Predator drone attacks and surveillance. We as Americans have begun witnessing technologies never thought possible. Most recent discussions have been debating the use of aircrafts that fly, maneuver, survey, and even kill other humans without a pilot. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are machines that are primarily used for modern warfare by keeping our men and women safe from the enemy. As of now, there have been several documented instances of utilizing UAVs/systems by the Houston police department as well as Austin’s police department. With the invasion of our privacy in plain site why aren’t social platforms such as Twitter being brought to the spotlight?

It is accepted wisdom in America that the right to privacy is bestowed to each citizen. However, time and time again we see our liberties and privacy taken away from the very institution that we determined would have a laze faire approach to these instilled values and virtues. It seems that we have come to a point where this isn’t the case.

The City of Austin as of January 2011 allowed its first mini UAV to be used by the Austin Police Department. With a court issued warrant and supervision by the Department of Defense. The APD used a wasp drone(no bigger than a bird) to reach heights of up to 400 feet to investigate a suspected armed and dangerous criminal’s home.

Source: defense-update.com

I don’t know about you all but this makes me very uneasy. Twitter has had some of its users agreeing that the use of these drones are overreaching. This was the first time an unmanned military reconnaissance aircraft was used against American citizens by local law enforcement. For now, use of these types of drones for high-risk law enforcement purposes is kept secret, although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has stated plans to implement new rules that would allow the routine flying of these drones across the United States by 2013. Equipped with high-resolution, infrared and thermal-imaging cameras, these drones could provide police with the accurate monitoring of all types of civilian areas and topographies. (Homeland Security Newswire)

With the Austin police department along with the authority of the DPS allowing aerial surveillance against its citizens here in Austin. Stakeholders are raising their voices over the possibility of their privacy being violated, while others are in support of these new methods. Americans right to privacy and life without scrutiny from the government are some of values and principles the founding fathers established our country and we are losing sight of that. Remember Thomas Jefferson said “The man who would choose security over freedom deserves neither.”

As stated in my earlier blogs about government abuse of using technologies against its citizens in Cairo, though tyrannical, are a good example of the power we have of social media technologies we utilize. We as Americans have the right to shape how we want our country to be. With Twitter I believe it has amazing potential for not just businesses but in shaping a masses voice for change.  If it weren’t for Twitter I feel the people of Cairo would not have been heard throughout the world as it did. Our world is becoming very fast pace and Twitter allows the frequency that blogs can’t provide. Although blogs are a great medium I feel that can’t measure up to Twitter’s future. This moment in history shows how we are freaking out those who once held power without objection.

By  watching closely on this issue being raised on Blogs and Twitter. I used Brian Solis’s view of Social Media and tweaked it to face this issue head on. I feel that with the use of Twitter for Communicating the demand for change can be applied to any avenue. Our conversations are how we change things today and that messages(which is person to person) is ineffective. “In order to be heard, we have to communicate as though we were speaking directly to our government.” So there are 3 things government can do when receiving our voice. First, they could do nothing and allow drones to be used. Although, this could bring a variety of implications and possibly instances of that like in Cairo, Egypt. Sure, they may be acknowledging that they received our message, but ask yourself what would you do if you knew otherwise?  Second, our government could take offense to our voice and talk back in an unannounced manner or action. Third, they could be inspired by the our voice (or concerned, intimidated, etc) and we have then succeeded by utilizing social media.

As Brian tells us, social media needs to become a much larger part of our communications strategy, and I feel that parts two and three are going to happen with or without us. So why not let us use social media to bring about a cultural revolution!

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