Drones intone 'you must stay home,' eliciting moans from those in the zone: Flying gizmos corral Brits amid coronavirus lockdown

Big Brother refitted for Big Hover


Authorities in the UK have begun using drones to direct the public to comply with public health measures announced on Monday to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

On Thursday, the Neath Port Talbot Council, which serves the Welsh towns of Neath and Port Talbot, said it is working with local police and the Safer Neath Port Talbot Community Partnership to deploy drones "to distribute public information" in the area.

The police and community groups say they're focusing areas where people are not following government social distancing recommendations.

boris johnson

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, health secretary Matt Hancock both test positive for COVID-19 coronavirus

READ MORE

"The drones are equipped with speakers that will transmit messages directly to the public," said the Neath Port Talbot Council via Twitter. "We are reminding residents to stay at home except for: shopping for necessities, obtaining medical supplies, one period of daily exercise, and traveling to and from essential work."

The post includes video of a drone lifting off from the pavement outside a SpecSavers optical retail store. A polite but emphatic voice can be heard from the drone's on-board speaker directing anyone within earshot to follow government rules and stay home.

The shadow of what appears to be the drone's operator can be seen at the left edge of the frame as the video begins, which calls into question the need for a drone in the first place.

As Twitter user Frazer Shaw pointed out the obvious, "You know you could do the same thing with an officer and a megaphone and it would have much less of a creepy 'Judge Dredd police vibe', right?"

South Wales Police didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

UK-based privacy group Big Brother Watch denounced the drone public announcement scheme as Orwellian. "Drones are an unnecessarily sinister way of communicating public health advice," the group said via Twitter. "It must stop."

There's no sign it will. Police in the UK have been testing drones at least since 2007 and they're increasingly used for law enforcement-oriented surveillance around the globe.

Derbyshire Police on Thursday published drone footage of scenic destination Curbar Edge in the Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, in an effort to shame people flouting government health guidance. The video scolds individuals walking dogs and taking pictures for engaging in non-essential activity.

"Whilst the government has advised to take one form of exercise a day, it is not appropriate to be getting in your car and travelling to take this exercise, particularly to a location, such as the Peak District that in normal times can become busy," the Derbyshire Police said.

On Friday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had tested positive for COVID-19. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022