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Australia to use surveillance drones to enforce lockdowns and social distancing

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Considering the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing is being universally advised and implemented across the world. While governments are urging their citizens to stay indoors and maintain distance when outdoors, not everybody agrees with and is adhering to the guidelines.

And Australia are taking things to the extreme with their approach and they’re also introducing tracking drones to enforce lockdowns.

In an effort to better monitor the people violating social distancing and other COVID-19 restrictions, drones are now being deployed across a few parts of Melbourne’s beaches and parks in Port Phillip as well as Stonnington Council areas.

Involving drones and surveilling people is, however, not being welcomed as many people are expressing concerns about how it may be too invasive.

“People have a right to be able to go about their lives without constantly being watched by police. The use of drones by police is something you’d expect, I think, somewhere like China and Russia,” said Lizzy O’Shea, the lawyer and chair of Digital Right Watch.

In an interview with Neil Mitchell, O’Shea expressed her views and concerns when it came to relying on drone surveillance of the common masses.

“Often in these moments of crisis we will introduce new forms of technology, new forms of surveillance, and they’re very difficult to dismantle at the end of the crisis,” she explained.

O’Shea said that drones could have been employed for delivering essentials to the old and weak to help ensure that they stay indoors and do not get infected by the virus. But using them for surveillance, however, may not be the optimal use, she said.

“I’d much rather prefer to see drones doing things like delivering groceries to people who are elderly, who maybe don’t want to go to the supermarket for fear of catching the virus,” O’Shea said.

She also highlighted another key concern with regards to surveillance using drones. Once the pandemic ends and the dust settles, such forms of surveillance may end up becoming the new normal.

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