States fear drug drones flying into jails

DPA/The Local
DPA/The Local - [email protected] • 6 Feb, 2015 Updated Fri 6 Feb 2015 10:42 CEST
States fear drug drones flying into jails

Twice authorities have intercepted drones being used to deliver contraband into prisons, leaving German states are planning new ways of keeping criminal activity away from criminals. But is the law behind the curve on this new technology?


The justice ministry in Lower Saxony said that in future it might deploy so-called "drone-trackers" - devices equipped with infrared, night vision and sometimes even radar – at prisons.

"We're aware of this problem and are keeping an eye on it," said Lower Saxony justice minister Antje Niewisch-Lennartz.

Drones have only recently appeared on governments' radars.

At the end of January, a drone carrying a package containing a mobile phone, a USB stick and two grammes of cannabis crashed on the roof of a prison in Hamburg.

And there was a similar case in Bremen at the beginning of December, when prison wardens found a quad-copter freighted with ten grammes of cannabis in their courtyard.

Representatives from every German state government will meet in Bremen in May to discuss the problem.

"We're right at the beginning of this debate," IT and drones expert Sven Manske from the University of Duisburg-Essen said.

"The problem until now is not so much a technical one, but the fact that there is still a widespread lack of consciousness about this problem."

He suggested that drones should be required to include a chip identifying the owner.

From toys to tools

Availability of cheap, highly effective drones has outstripped public and political understanding of them.

Models are becoming increasingly tiny and have more and more features, such as video streaming or voice control.

While they are often sold as toys, they can in fact be turned to any number of purposes, from use by estate agents or firefighters or smugglers or spies.

"We always imagined the future with flying cars, but it's unmanned aircraft that will really define it," said Cathrine Kniep of Lower Saxony Aviation.

"The boundary from toys to tools for all kinds of uses is quite fluid."

Kniep suggests that the development of defences against drones will mirror the rise of internet security concerns, as a wave enthusiasm overwhelms security concerns.

"First we networked ourselves and then thought about how we would protect ourselves against those who would do us harm," she says.

Former boss of the German Football Federation Helmut Spahn says it's time to put drones on the map, suggesting a drone 'driver's license' or a government-issued permit, as is used for weapons.


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