In what appears to be a cynical PR stunt, the UK government is considering plans to allow women who feel threatened on the street to call upon surveillance drones that would arrive in minutes and shine a bright light on any potential attacker.
What could possibly go wrong?
“Women in fear of an attack will be able to use a phone app to summon a drone, which could arrive within minutes armed with a powerful spotlight and thermal cameras to frighten off any potential assailant,” reports the Telegraph.
Trials will take place on campus at Nottingham University at a cost of £500,000 during which the tech will be used to “protect students and staff.”
The scheme will be submitted to the UK government’s Innovate research program, and could eventually see helicopters being replaced by drones as a front line tool of law enforcement.
“It is a high capability drone that costs just £100 an hour but can do 80 percent of what a police helicopter can do,” said Richard Gill, the founder of Drone Defence.
“It cannot do high speed pursuits but it can do the other tasks such as searching for people and ground surveillance.”
Gill noted that 25 drones could do the job of one police helicopter in London for the same price, with the drones being housed at five base locations across the city.
The idea of countless government drones whizzing around a city keeping tabs on people is garishly dystopian.
Allowing individuals to access the drones would also be completely open to abuse and misuse.
Innumerable people would make a mockery of the system by constantly calling upon the drones to harass random people or use the drones for target practice.
A far more effective means of preventing such attacks would be to allow women to be armed with pepper spray, but current law in the UK makes that illegal.
Changing the law would give women the power to defend themselves while avoiding the dystopian nightmare that state surveillance drones would bring.
The idea of giving women who feel threatened the power to summon drones is patently a cynical PR stunt to acclimatize the public into accepting the general introduction of drones as a tool of mass surveillance.