Robert Hayes never responded to my comments in the entry on Top 10 Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State. Nevertheless, I want to add a couple links to stories that caught my eye today.
Wired reports that the Sheriff's Dept. in Los Angeles will test using unmanned drones (isn't that redundant? — Wired's term, not mine) to provide surveillance for "scanning rooftops for break-ins and finding lost children or hikers." If tests are successful, the Sheriff's Dept. "could eventually put as many as 20 of the aircraft into service, expanding their use to searching for suspects on the run and monitoring hostage situations, among other things." Naturally, it's the "other things" that concern me. The story is balanced and gives both positive arguments and negative objections to potential for government intrusion into reasonable expectations of privacy.
Perhaps even more alarming is a report in Free Market News that the federal government, in conjunction with Lockheed Martin, is developing spy blimps equipped with high-resolution cameras able to surveil as much as 600 square miles at a time. That brief article notes no controversy.
Yet another story in IT Blogwatch found at Computer World sounds more alarmist, noting that we're trading freedom for security. The vaguely hysterical tone doesn't go over well, but it also doesn't undo the point that we've passed into an era when we are reasonable to expect that our e-mail, telephone calls and records, library borrowing, medical records, movement on public streets, etc. is being continuously monitored through a variety of means, most notably the hidden camera. That the cameras are in orbit (think Google Earth) gave many of us pause, but based on the news reports linked to above, in the near future, cameras will be much closer and better focused, and they'll be cheap enough to be deployed by those below the level of the federal government.
I also found a blog called Privacy and Security Law Blog run by law firm that appears to be a pretty authoritative round-up of, well, privacy and security issues.