Matt Gurney: Bring on the surveillance drones


In Saturday’s National Post, my colleague Jonathan Kay opined, correctly, in my view, that while many of us feel we ought to be disturbed by government surveillance of the public, most of us simply aren’t all that bothered. He was writing in response to journalist Glen Greenwald’s new book, exposing the extent of U.S. (and allied) monitoring of private communications and collection of metadata. Greenwald is frustrated that the public isn’t more angry about this, telling Kay in a phone interview that, “[People] have passwords on their email and social media accounts — they put locks on their bathroom doors, [yet] applaud as the authorities collect vast amounts of data about what they say, read, buy and do.”

Guilty as charged, at least in part. I don’t applaud when the government collects data, including, presumably, information on what I say, read, buy and do. But I don’t recoil in horror, either. Even though I have a strong and stubborn (if admittedly somewhat inconsistently applied) libertarian streak, I see more value in having this data stored than in preventing, via laws and regulations, its collection.

I didn’t always feel this way, and found myself realizing my perspective had changed last year, when reading about the ARGUS-IS. The ARGUS-IS is an extremely high resolution camera. Combining advanced optics and powerful computer processors, the camera, which can be drone-mounted, could provide video surveillance of an entire city, capable of resolving objects as small as six inches. The real power of the ARGUS-IS, however, isn’t in its ability to take pictures, per se. Because it can record hours of video at a time, the real value would be the ability to zoom in on a specific location and see everything that happened before and after a moment in time.

There are very real world applications of this. To cite three examples: The abductions of Etan Patz, Alicia Ross and Victoria Stafford. Patz was six years old in 1979, when he vanished off a Manhattan street while walking to his school bus stop — though it was only a two-block walk, he never arrived at the stop, and was never found (he was declared legally dead in 2001, and an arrest was made in 2012, but a trial has not yet begun). Ross was a young Toronto-area woman who was abducted and murdered by her next door neighbour in 2005, attacked in her backyard. Stafford, aged eight, was abducted while walking home from school 2009. She was sexually assaulted and murdered hours later.

These cases all have one thing in common, beyond the obvious tragic, violent outcome. In every case, these people were not only abducted, but they were snatched in the blink of an eye. Their exact location was known to others with a margin of error of minutes: Patz vanished between the front door of his apartment building and his bus stop, between the time he left his home and before the bus picked up the other children; Ross had spoken to her mother at home after being dropped off her boyfriend, so clearly vanished after that; and Stafford was taken as she walked home from school, where witnesses saw her heading home right after classes ended.

Imagine an ARGUS-IS drone had been overhead in each of those instances. Patz would have been spotted leaving his house and could have been monitored going on his way until something happened, which also would have been captured. Ross’s house could have been brought up and monitored until her departure was spotted and tracked. Stafford could have been zoomed in on until she was taken into a car, and then that car could have been followed. All of this is a matter of rewinding and fast-forwarding.

I confess a bias here — I probably would have been creeped out by this very notion before I became a father. Back then, to be blunt about it, I was the centre of my world. But now, I am responsible for a 19-month-old bundle of energy, affection and maddening sleeplessness that is my daughter, and if she vanishes at the park one day while my back is turned, I’ll damn well want to know there was a drone up there monitoring the area.

I’m not blind to how something like this could be abused. You’d need pretty robust safeguards, that both prevented improper access but also permitted immediate, real-time access by police during abduction scenarios or pursuits of suspects and the like. It would be a hard balance to strike, and let’s not kid ourselves — it would never be perfect.

But the idea that we’ve have the technology available to gather this kind of data, and choose not to because it might be abused, is deeply worrying. Yes, there are civil liberty issues at play, and no, in a perfect world, I’d rather not have drones buzzing overhead, watching us all. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and all things being equal, I’d rather live in one where abducted kids have a better chance of getting back home to their families than one where I enjoy the luxury of not thinking I’m being filmed walking the dog from 20,000 feet up.

National Post

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Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre

Most proud loving devoted fathers in Ontario have just one problem. If they are ever the victim of domestic violence or even attempted murder by strangulation, you can never ever call the Police without having the knowledge that the odds that the male victim will charged arrested and then the Children's Aid Society, if they have any say, will provide millions of dollars of unlimited legal assistance to take the children from your full time care and place them with the violent mother.

In Ottawa male victims of Domestic Violence have what lawyers commonly call "The Gestapo", the 100 Million Dollar a year state funded Criminal Organization called "The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa that is directed in reality by "The Godfather" aka Robert Godman a supervisor with the most vile examples of humanity as "Child Protection workers like
Phil Hiltz-Laforge and Claudette Knuckle-Dougan or Liam Bowman who are professional fabricators of evidence to take children from male victims of domestic violence and place them with violent female abusers.

Ottawa Gestapo Robert Godman directs the Ottawa Police into making prosecutions even when the evidence shows an offence did not occur simply because they wish to target a Male Victim of Domestic Violence.

Gestapo Supervisor, Robert Godman has an unbelievable amount of corrupt influence upon Judges like Robert L. Maranger who "rubber stamp" and and all decisions requested, even when they are illegal and based on incontrovertible evidence of Criminal Offenses by "The Gestapo".

Children are abducted every day in Ontario because we have ScumBag Vile Child Abusers like Gestapo Lawyer Marguerite Isobel Lewis who personally fabricates evidence in the court room and then repeatedly uses the evidence she fabricated to gain further illegal orders to ABUSE CHILDREN.

If you want to meet the Worst Child Abusers on Earth, come to 1602 Telesat Court and ask for Robert Godman and his partner in crime Marguerite Isobel Lewis.

In DownTown Ottawa these criminals receive Judicial blessings from Corrupt Judges , former CAS lawyers like Timothy Minnema who personally fabricates evidence to assist CAS and, like Bob Maranger, become gutless cowardly Child Abusers by turning a blind eye to child abuse and outright Criminal Offenses by those most vile examples in society, the Child Protection Workers and their GodFather of the Children's Aid Society of Ottawa.

Ask your Member of Parliament if he or she is going to act to Scrap the CAS and replace it with a fully accountable Government Department of Child Protection instead of funding Criminals with Billions of Dollars at the expense of taxpayers and at the cost of thousands of abused children.