Access: New York Times
Summary: Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, are the "future of aviation." The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which regulates the use of drones and currently limits the commercial use of drones in the US, is likely to loosen this restriction by 2015 and private industry is positioning itself for a commercial boom in drones. And while the US government has mostly used drones for surveillance and combat in the war on terror, the government has weighed the use of drones for surveilling its own citizens. As noted by the NYT, Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said this year: “This fast-emerging technology is cheap and could pose a significant threat to the privacy and civil liberties of millions of Americans. It is another example of a fast-changing policy area on which we need to focus to make sure that modern technology is not used to erode Americans’ right to privacy.” From a Foucauldian perspective, the possibility of widespread drone surveillance could be the new Panopticon. In particular, inexpensive drones (<$1000) allow for continuous video footage, facilitating the proliferation of micro-power as individuals, corporations, and government observe others throughout all of society. Furthermore, it is likely to spread throughout a variety of institutions, enabling the use of drone surveillance in search-and-rescue missions, agricultural surveillance, and countless other personal and commercial applications. While Foucault offered the metaphor of surveillance technologies as swarming throughout society, drones offer a very literal extension of this expanding technology.
Submitted By: Paul Dean