Surveillance startups feast on America's bloated police budgets

Originally published at: Surveillance startups feast on America's bloated police budgets | Boing Boing


Among the NYPD's suppliers is Skydio, a Silicon Valley firm that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to make drones easy to fly, allowing officers to control them with little training.

The same training regimen that allows police to handle their fire arms so well?


If I wanted to keep watch on the watchers, and I had the technical know-how and the capital, wouldn’t it be easy to slip something into the terms of sale or terms of use for these products that they could “phone home” as needed (for security updates, for example) and watch how law “enforcement” uses the technology? Not all police departments have an IT staff, do they?


I’d be pretty surprised if the privacy policies on this stuff are all that encouraging(it’s not like the surveillance guys ever stop viewing the customer as another potential product among the herds of products they explicitly offer to the customer); but there’s probably a nontrivial barrier (beyond just building a viable product) on the marketing side.

“police are low-knowledge customers who resist tech pitches but go “viral” on stuff once it gains a foothold.” sounds an awful lot like the best way to get them into the stuff is to be(or have on payroll as consultants or sales/marketing roles) people they recognize as peers or role models.

That doesn’t strictly prevent some sort of more or less clandestine bankrolling by a silent partner who just siphons off bits of data; but it’s a standard that is met much more easily and naturally by those not pretending about their cultural affiliation and areas of interest.


Ever since 911 the feasting has continued. It ebbs and flows but the macho thirst for control and chest beating drives contracts across the country.


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