With Amazon’s New Drone Patent, The Company’s Relationship With Surveillance Is About To Get Even More ComplicatedJune 26, 2019
When most people think of wide-spread surveillance, the government immediately comes to mind. It’s a fair association given programs like the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), which targeted Black activists and even Black-owned bookstores, to the present-day Countering Violent Extremism program targeting Muslim youth. However, as technology advances, private companies are getting their hands deeper and deeper into the business of surveillance.
Recently, Amazon patented “Surveillance-as-a-Service,” a technology pitched as a home security system, according to Smart Cities Dive. The patent is for a drone that can “perform a surveillance action at a property of an authorized party.” Its capabilities would include photographs, video, infrared, thermal scanning, night-vision, and audio. The patent claims that areas around the drone would be geo-fenced, so it couldn’t pick up any data. However, Amazon has often been criticized for its home devices gathering information they shouldn’t. Last month, advocacy groups claimed that Amazon’s Echo Dot kids violated children’s privacy laws by recording and storing kids’ conversations — then making it nearly impossible to delete.