Surveillance As A Service Is Coming

Amazon’s push to use drones for deliveries is well known but a new patent that was applied for a few years ago has just become public. In the patent application unmanned aerial vehicles “may image the property to generate surveillance images”. While the promise of keeping us safer by letting us know when there are potential security issues on our properties, it all feels very Orwellian to me.

The use of drones for deliveries has been around for some time but, other that seeing the McFly family receiving some dehydrated pizza in the second installment of the Back to the Future trilogy, there hasn’t been mass adoption of drone tech for delivering goods. This Amazon patent doesn’t fill me with confidence.

I can imagine ordering some gizmo over Amazon, the drone stopping by for a delivery and shooting a few pics. A few minutes later, an email arrives from Amazon telling me my delivery was complete and I really should buy to new security cameras (Alexa-enabled, of course).

Part of the business model could be for us to pay for regular fly-bys that check on our properties, perhaps while we’re on holidays, and let us know if a gate has been opened or if a window has been broken. So, it could be used instead of paying a security guard for a regular patrol.

One of the books that made a great impression on me in my teens, and that I’ve reread several times over the years, is George Orwell’s 1984. While government monitoring was forced onto people, it seems corporations are becoming the distribution apparatus for mass surveillance.

Amazon’s patent is couched to sound quite benign but I’m becoming increasingly sceptical of big business’ interest in collecting data. While, on the face of things, the case for such advances seems OK, the potential for abuse and the consequences of data breaches are becoming more serious.


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