In late January, a viral video from China showed people who’d wandered outside in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak getting scolded by a disembodied voice from a drone flying overhead. Last month, similar campaigns began in France, where locals flouting travel restrictions were gently reminded to “respectez les distances de sécurité s’il vous plaît.”
Now, self-righteous flying robots have made their way to the U.S., with at least two American police departments deploying drones to tell people to disperse, go home, and stay there.
Last Friday, the mayor of Elizabeth, New Jersey, where there are more than 1,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19, announced plans to deploy drones to enforce social-distancing rules.
President Donald Trump has given the Central Intelligence Agency secret new authority to conduct drone strikes against suspected terrorists, U.S. officials said, changing the Obama administration’s policy of limiting the spy agency’s paramilitary role and reopening a turf war between the agency and the Pentagon.
A Kentucky man who shot down a drone that had been flying over his property was cleared of all charges against him because a judge ruled that the unmanned aerial vehicle had violated his privacy.
the Intercept published a major package of stories that reveals the inner workings of the US military's drone program, including how and why people are targeted for assassination on the amorphous battlefields of Yemen, Somalia, and other countries. "The Drone Papers," according to the Intercept, is based on a trove of a classified documents leaked by a whistleblower who grew concerned by the government's methods of targeting individuals for lethal action. "This outrageous explosion of watchlisting—of monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them 'baseball cards,' assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefield—it was, from the very first instance, wrong," the source said.
The U.S. drone war across much of the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa is in crisis and not because civilians are dying or the target list for that war or the right to wage it just about anywhere on the planet are in question in Washington. Something far more basic is at stake: drone pilots are quitting in record numbers.