Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The criminalisation of dissent

Last month, when watching the premiere of the new series of 24, I commented on how fictional propaganda offered a hint of where our increasingly repressive and authoritarian society was headed. In particular, my frame of reference was to the proposed use of surveillance drones - previously seen in 24 and spying on insurgents in Afghanistan - against the British public.

However, it seems that the plan ro use the drones "in time for the 2012 Olympics" is somewhat ahead of schedule;
Police on Merseyside have had to ground their new drone over concerns it was being used illegally without a licence.
Merseyside Police said they had been unaware they needed a licence to fly the £40,000 remote control helicopter fitted with CCTV.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it needed to be consulted over any use of the drones, that can fly up to 400ft and reach speeds of 30mph.
The force's new drone was used last week to catch a car thief in thick fog.
Most revealing about this story is that "the police force has had the drone since November" and lists "monitoring large public events" among its "range of uses." Given that "senior officers say domestic extremism ... can include activists suspected of minor public order offences such as peaceful direct action and civil disobedience," we can guess exactly what "public events" will be most closely monitored.