New Scientist had a piece this week on the backlash against civilian drones, in which they point out occasions where the American public have decided that drones being used in law enforcement are disgusting and a violation of their rights. This opinion isn't exactly conducive to their foreign policy which not only allows flying cameras but puts guns on them.
The outrage at the civilian drones is to be expected. There's never going to be a new advancement in the government watching people that isn't going to be met with some resistance, I'd put a lot of money on there having been a similar backlash against helicopters or CCTV. In reality there don't seem to be any new issue with drones being used in law enforcement, if it's the case that they are going to just keep buzzing around looking for trouble all day then that would feel majorly uncomfortable but that would be just as intrusive as CCTV so a protest for one should include the other. If its just for following criminals in a chase its a more convenient version of a helicopter so there's no new issue there either.
The objections against civilian drones then boil down to "I'm scared of future technologies" which is one of those opinions the only answer to is "I'm sorry, but the future is going to happen." This is unless there's some obvious arbitrary cut off point between the ages of rapidly increasing technological innovation to a new age 'post-drone' where everyone just sits around with their 2012 iPads and thought "well we're happy enough with what we've got" until the end of time, something which I think you'll agree does not look like its going to happen.
There is a more pressing issue with drones that completely dwarfs Fox News commentators shooting at them in the sky. Since 2004 an estimated 2000 people have been killed in drone attacks in Pakistan, with some saying up to 50 of those were civillians. The argument that these US drones are uncomfortably intrusive then seems a bit farcical: now, instead of the drones just having a cheeky peek at you, they have a gun pointed directly at you and some hundreds of miles away someone with an xbox controller is looking at a screen with your little face on it, thinking 'oh should I kill him?'.
There's two things that make this absolutely insane to me, firstly when I'm at an airport and i see a police officer with a gun it makes me feel weird. It always seemed odd to allow the chaotic processes of someone else's mind in charge of the most important thing to me, i.e my life, and in that case its easy to become a different person: seeing someone with a physical embodiment of your death strapped around their neck changes the nature of any interaction with them, I would give up on being myself if it gave me even the 0.0000001% chance of survival and although it probably isn't even that high, it's still something I cannot get out of my mind - so having that gun hovering over me would be even worse.
The second thing I hate about it is this disconnect from reality that a drone user has with their drone. For example when I'm quivering with fear in front of a lovely friendly border patrol guy with a gun, he can see and understand that I'm just some weird kid and he wouldn't want to kill me because, lets face it, I couldn't physically pose any real threat to anything. However with a drone all anyone is is a set of pixels on a screen, a trigger away from simply not existing anymore, and worse than that the physical manifestation for that for the victim is some amorphous white blob floating through the sky like some divine emotionless half-god, not the individual who has deemed it right to kill them.
It seems odd that America coming to terms with pacified drones hasn't triggered them to the reality of drones overseas. It's time to ask whether the priorities are to protest the civil liberties lost by the amorphous white blob watching people or to protest the constant fear under which anyone could become a fatal victim to that blob.Suggest a correction