Surveillance drones in Germany: This should give anxieties a jolt of adrenaline, from the nation that gave policing its sharpest studs. Berlin has a graffiti problem, especially on commuter trains. A railway operator, Deutsche Bahn, wants to patrol its rail yards with tiny drones at night.
From the Times: “While the tiny remote-controlled helicopters, equipped with cameras that officials hope will allow them to catch the graffitists on the spot, are only entering the testing phase, the debate is well developed in a country where clandestine surveillance is a strongly emotional issue. […] German unease over unauthorized prying, rooted in memories of Nazi-era denouncements of neighbors and East Germany’s omnipresent secret police, runs deep. And it often leads to conclusions or requests that outsiders might regard as paranoid — deep enough, for example, to have forced Google to bend its rules, allowing Germans who objected to images of their homes being published on the Internet to request they be blurred.”
The German federal government meanwhile has scrapped plans to build its own drones, after facing too much opposition. Drones are increasingly an issue in the United States, where private and public agencies are beginning to use them for all sorts of reasons, surveillance among them. Florida this year banned their use by police absent a warrant.