Use of drones on the rise in Germany

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by singha61, Jun 25, 2012.

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  1. DW
    More businesses are using unmanned aerial vehicles for surveillance and research. While the technology is cost-efficient and practical, some are worried about its potential to violate privacy and data protection laws.

    The western-German town of Düren was in turmoil. A small drone was circling slowly and deliberately over the local school. The result: nervous residents, curious glances, frightened whispers. Many locals asked if this was a secret military operation or some sort of new state surveillance program. But in the end it turned out that a photo and film production company had been using the drone to make 360-degree aerial shots.

    Such scenes are increasingly common, as more and more private companies in Germany employ the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones. They're used for photography, map-making and surveillance of large solar farms, industrial complexes, gas pipelines or construction sites. According to an unpublished report by Germany's Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development, businesses, universities and individuals have submitted 500 applications to use drones in the last two years, and most of them have been approved.
    Financial benefits

    "Drones are cheaper than keeping a helicopter," explained Wolfgang Wieland, security spokesman for the Green Party's parliamentary faction. "For example, if Deutsche Bahn [Germany's national railway operater] does it, it can monitor its railway network much more easily than with a helicopter."

    The police force has already been utilizing drones equipped with cameras to monitor soccer matches and protests and to find concealed cannabis plantations. Meanwhile, universities have been using them to research phenomena such as forest destruction and soil erosion.

    More regulation needed

    For some, though, this increased use of drones is unsettling. In May 2012 drones were explicitly mentioned in Germany's Aviation Act for the first time, but the law was altered soon after, at the request of Peter Schaar, federal commissioner for data protection and freedom of information. A passage was added, stipulating that companies had to take the issue of data protection into account. "But nobody knows how they do this, or if they refuse, or if they are even aware of it," said Wieland.

    Wieland is concerned that, in the future, anyone who walks outside will be at risk of being photographed by a drone. He points out that although companies are officially only allowed to photograph and film on their own premises, "they of course also capture the areas to the right and left."
    Use of drones on the rise in Germany | Germany | DW.DE | 24.06.2012
  2. I might buy one. There's a dogging site just up the road.
  3. They'll be ok until the first one crashes onto a housing estate.
  4. Only in Germany would they so speedily decide it was a new state surveillance program...

    Didn't anyone think of getting out the shot gun?