Surveillance Drone for The 99%: Occupy Wall Street Protesters To Monitor Police

Maulim/CC BY 2.0

From whaling wars to military wars, surveillance drones are everywhere -- including the Occupy movement. But it's not the police employing these unmanned machines -- it's reporters like Tim Pool, an American journalist best known for his 21-hour marathon of live-streamed coverage of the Occupy Wall Street eviction, which occurred in New York City on November 15.

Despite a media ban on the raid, Pool was able to single-handedly report on events on the ground that day, using little else than a smartphone and donated batteries. But according to the The Guardian, Pool is now working on a project that will facilitate surveillance of police actions during similar events, using a Parrot AR drone that has onboard cameras and which can be remotely controlled by smartphone.

Calling this four-rotor mini-helicopter the "OccuCopter," Pool has modified the drone's programming so that it can stream live images directly onto the internet. What's more, Pool told The Guardian that it's been "police-proofed" by de-centralizing its operation:

We are trying to get a stable live feed so you can have 50 people controlling it in series. If the cops see you controlling it from a computer they can shut you down, but then control could automatically switch to someone else.

Certainly, it turns the tables on the authorities hoping to conceal or control the flow of information. But despite this clever way to keep tabs on any incidents of police brutality, it could be a slippery slope towards a kind of "surveillance society" that we may not be all too comfortable with. After all, it's terra incognita: whether it's used by the general populace or the police, what guarantee to privacy or safety can there be in the future with the use of such technologies?

Tags: Activism | Gadgets | Occupy Wall Street