The product is expected to be called “Azon Air,” a drone with information-upload capabilities that “would make Big Brother drool.”
That’s according to Mike Maharrey of the Tenth Amendment Center, which monitors and reports on such issues.
“Axon sells police body cameras and Tasers. It also developed a cloud-based data storage system called Evidence.com for police video, audio and other digital information. Axon has teamed up with China-based drone manufacturer DJI to sell a line of drones dubbed ‘Azon Air.’ The video camera-equipped drones can upload data directly to the cloud for instant analysis,” he explained in a new report.
Already, Axon confirms, more than 200,000 public safety professionals currently use Evidence.com, a program originally set up to process and store body-camera video. But it now has expanded into a large-scale police data storage system, Maharrey reported.
“Through Evidence.com, law enforcement agencies can instantly analyze, categorize and share reams of raw data,” his report said, including PDFs, crime scene photos, CCTV footage, in-car cameras and now DJI drone video.
“In effect, Evidence.com creates a privately owned, centralized system that state, local and federal law enforcement agencies can all tap into and share information. For example, police in Phoenix could share a video with officers in Boston, or the FBI could access drone footage shot in Montgomery, Alabama, all with just a few clicks of a mouse,” he said.
“The data storage and sharing capabilities along with the development of artificial intelligence applications create the potential for an invasive surveillance platform that would make Big Brother drool,” the report said.
“The threat to privacy becomes more acute when you factor in facial recognition and AI technology. According to Slate, Axon CEO Rick Smith recently said his company is actively considering using facial recognition with its camera technology. And as Defense One reports, footage captured by Axon drones could be instantly analyzed by AI systems not revealed to the public,” Maharrey said.
He said the ACLU has raised questions about police being able to watch and record wide areas such as outdoor gatherings, because, “It could give police the ability to hit rewind on people’s lives and see anywhere they’ve been.”
He said the “proliferation of surveillance drones instantly linked to massive databases connected to facial recognition and AI technology underscores the need for state and local government to put careful limits on drone surveillance.”
“Police should not be able to deploy drones to gather evidence without a warrant. Additionally, state and local government should put tight limits on data-sharing and storage.”
Drones typically carry high definition video cameras, have night vision and GPS capabilities, can intercept cell calls and reveal whether individuals are carrying weapons.
Some have facial recognition.
Currently, 18 states — Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin — require law enforcement agencies in certain circumstances to obtain a search warrant to use drones for surveillance or to conduct a search.