Drones of all sizes are used by environmentalists to monitor deforestation, by conservationists to persecute poachers, and by journalists and activists to document major protests. As a political sociologist who studies social movements and drones, I document in my new book “The Good Drone” a wide range of non-violent and pro-social drone applications. I show that these efforts have the potential to democratize surveillance.
But when the Department of Homeland Security redirects large fixed-wing drones from the U.S.-Mexico border to monitor protests, and when cities experiment with testing people with drones for a fever, it̵
[Read: This cute lil’ underwater drone just spent 4 years ~ v i b i n g ~ in the Atlantic]
Public use of drones has skyrocketed in the past decade – everyday people with everyday technology are doing interesting things. As drones enter the already overcrowded airspace, the Federal Aviation Administration tries to respond. In the near future, there will likely be more of these devices in the sky that will be flown by a growing number of social, political and economic players.
Public opinion about the use and spread of drones is still in the air, but the burgeoning use of drones has triggered numerous efforts to contain drones. These responses range from public measures to control local airspace by the community to the development of sophisticated jamming equipment and tactics to launch drones from the sky.
From start-ups to large defense companies, there is a problem denying drones airspace, digitally hijacking drones, physically controlling drones and shooting drones. The anti-drone measures range from simple blunt 10-gauge shotguns to poetic: well-trained falcons.
Many of these anti-drone measures are expensive and complicated. Some are illegal. The cheapest and most legal way to avoid drone technology is by hiding.
How to get out
The first thing you can do to hide from a drone is to use the natural and built environment. It is possible to wait for bad weather because smaller devices, such as those used by the local police, have difficulty flying in strong winds, thick fog and heavy rain.
Trees, walls, niches and tunnels are more reliable than the weather and offer protection from the soaring drones used by the Department of Homeland Security.
The second thing you can do is minimize your digital footprint. It is wise not to use wireless devices such as cell phones or GPS systems because they have digital signatures that can indicate your location. This is useful to evade drones, but also to avoid other technologies that invade privacy.
The third thing you can do is confuse a drone. If you put mirrors on the floor, stand over broken glass and wear elaborate headgear, machine-readable blankets or jackets with sensor jams, this can dissolve and distort the image that a drone sees.
Mannequins and other forms of mimicry can confuse both the sensors on board and the analysts who are responsible for monitoring the drone’s video and sensor feeds.
Drones equipped with infrared sensors see through the mannequin trick, but are confused by tactics that mask body temperature. For example, a room ceiling masks significant amounts of body heat and simply hides in an area that corresponds to body temperature, such as a building or an exhaust vent on the sidewalk.
The fourth and most practical thing you can do to protect yourself from drone surveillance is to dress up. The growth of mass surveillance has led to an explosion of creative experiments designed to mask one’s identity. But some of the smartest ideas are very old-fashioned and low-tech. Clothing is the first choice because hats, glasses, masks and scarves make a huge contribution to the development of drone-based facial recognition software.
Your walk is as unique as your fingerprint. As gait detection software continues to evolve, it is important to also mask the key pivot points used to identify the walker. The best reaction may be to limit limping, using a small leg rest, or wearing extremely loose clothing.
Artists and scientists have further developed these approaches and developed a hoodie cover that is designed to shield the owner’s heat signature and to encrypt facial recognition software and glasses to thwart facial recognition systems.
Have an umbrella ready
These innovations are tempting, but umbrellas can prove to be the most pervasive and robust tactic on this list. They are affordable, easy to carry, difficult to see and can be disposed of quickly. You can also build a high-tech model if you want.
This article was republished from The Conversation by Austin Choi-Fitzpatrick, associate professor of political sociology at the University of San Diego, under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
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