Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones as they are commonly known, are increasingly becoming a crucial public-policy issue within the realm of digital rights, with heated debates ongoing regarding their impact on the right to privacy. A key argument within this are drones’ ability to loiter overhead for long hours at a time, engaging in what is called “persistent surveillance”.
With narratives favouring security over privacy in the wake of 9/11, and building momentum in the recent chaos wrought by Da'esh and other terrorist groups, the use of drones is increasingly argued to be a cheap, practical way to carry out surveillance to protect the state, and to carry out effective military missions abroad.
Indeed, the FBI uses a small fleet of drones for domestic law-enforcement surveillance and India is rapidly increasing its use of UAVs in the conflict state of Jammu & Kashmir as well as the national policing of rallies. In other regions, this persistent surveillance is given teeth through the weaponisation of drones in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Syria.
What is the real impact of military and policing drones, and what is the way forward? This workshop will aim to go beyond drones' effect on the right to privacy and examine the impact felt on the ground, by examining the arguments for and against the use of drones, sharing the experience of people who already live under them, the precedents that are being set through these practices, and the safeguards we need to set.