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OWS Fights Back Against Police Surveillance by Launching "Occucopter" Citizen Drone

In response to constant police surveillance, violence, and arrests, Occupy Wall Street protesters and legal observers have been turning their cameras back on the police.

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There are also concerns that the roll-out of citizen drones might be disingenuously used by the police to justify and speed up police acquisition and use of drones for the surveillance of protests. Police departments in the UK and across the US are eager to use drones, but there has been little or no debate about the impacts on public safety, privacy and liberty. And there has certainly been no public engagement about this expansion of police surveillance.

It will probably not be long before there are test cases in court or before legislation is introduced to ground citizen drones. Our spirits were lifted talking to Pool about his occucopter, yet we feel uneasy about the ever-increasing use of drone surveillance. Like all tools they can be used for both good and bad, and for repression and resistance.

The question is, do we really want the paranoiac nightmare of our airspace being polluted by police and personal drones with all of us watching our watchers? We are not sure how this will unfold, but we are sure that the outcome will be as unpredictable as the technological developments themselves.

Noel Sharkey is professor of artificial intelligence and robots, and professor of public engagement, at the University of Sheffield.

Sarah Knuckey is a Human rights lawyer and Adjunct Professor of Clinical Law at New York University and a frequent National Lawyers Guild legal observer in New York City.

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