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Expanding drone fleet raises privacy concerns

The Local · 22 Feb 2012, 15:54

Published: 22 Feb 2012 15:54 GMT+01:00

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According to a report published Wednesday in news magazine Der Spiegel, an official parliamentary request from the socialist Left party revealed that Germany has around 70 drones in operation as part of its military mission in Afghanistan.

The German military, the Bundeswehr, also wants to order 16 new SAATEG VTOL helicopter drones, as well as five giant “Euro Hawk” drones, which have a range of 25,000 kilometres and can locate electronic signals and hack phone calls and text messages from a height of 20,000 metres.

Drones are currently among one of the favourite technologies among NATO countries, with the German government praising their “variety of applications” in a recent report.

"Unmanned Aerial Systems" (UAS), as the technical jargon has it, can not only be used for delivering weapons, but also for rescue missions, monitoring forest fires, police surveillance, counting wild animals and predicting harvests.

But civil rights advocates and some German politicians still have serious misgivings about drones, particularly in their domestic application.

Drones weighing more than 25 kilos can only be used above military training grounds in Germany, but police have used drones to monitor football riots and the protests against nuclear transport trains in Lower Saxony.

Der Spiegel also says that German police are increasingly using drones to patrol the country’s borders in the search for illegal immigrants and to patrol train tracks.

The Left MPs Andrej Hunko and Ulla Jelpke told the magazine that they see Germany becoming “European pioneers in air-borne espionage,” and Green Party domestic policy spokeswoman Konstantin von Notz is equally alarmed by the developments.

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“Drones have the dangerous potential of secretly violating the privacy of citizens from the air,” she told the magazine. “We have to prevent their use for observing people.”

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:08 February 22, 2012 by Englishted
Send one out looking for the comment sections on "Controversial Israeli sub surfaces in Kiel " and "Young Muslim criminals reoffend less often".
17:48 February 22, 2012 by Bigfoot76
hmm, this may make the sex outdoors a little more difficult. Or maybe more exciting. Not sure which.
06:18 February 23, 2012 by Gretl
"Der Spiegel also says that German police are increasingly using drones to patrol the country¦#39;s borders in the search for illegal immigrants..."

How? Germany has open borders. These aren't people on foot crossing vast deserts. There isn't a fence anymore. Is one BMW different from the rest if the occupants are without immigrations papers?

@Bigfoot76 - I go with "more exciting".
10:12 February 23, 2012 by The-ex-pat
Exciting, now that would depend if the leaked pictures of your wife/partner/pickup's legs wrapped around your waist and your naked arse on the front page of the Bild for the weeks sex and titillation story are your thing. Don't forget the, "do you recognise her or the tattoo on his but, if so ring this number now"................lol
14:40 February 23, 2012 by Bigfoot76
Wait, I could be famous in Germany? More drones please!
21:35 February 25, 2012 by Englishted
Oh stop droning on it is getting boring.
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