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Drone Britain

September 27, 2010

Despite the supposed anti-surveillance tendencies of the new coalition government in Britain, one kind of surveillance would seem to be expanding, as it is almost everywhere in the world: that of surveillance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Micro-unmanned Aerial Vehicles (MAVs) or flying drone cameras. There are so many previous stories on this blog about drones you’d be better off searching than me providing links here!

The Guardian reported on Friday that a growing number of different agencies are either ordering drones or have plans to do so, including he Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), four police forces (Merseyside, Essex, Staffordshire and the British Transport Police), the Environment Agency, and even some Fire Services (West Midlands and South Wales). This follows the story in January that there was what seemed to be an evolving secret national strategy for drones.

So far, their use has been limited not by ethical concerns but by the requirements of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) which insists that they must be “licensed when flown within 50 metres of a person, property or structure.” This remains its position, but it will be interesting to see how stringent are the licensing requirements as drones increase in number and whether the expansion in UAV use is in any way affected by the government’s stated policy aim to bring CCTV under stricter regulation.

(thanks to Charles Raab for this)

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