What's the Latest Development?
In an attempt to stop graffiti artists from decorating their trains and depots, Germany's national railway Deutsche Bahn plans to launch a squadron of drones equipped with infrared cameras that will ideally catch the perpetrators in the act. The drones will cost about €60,000 (about US$77,600) each, and will fly up to 150 meters above ground. A company spokesman said their focus would be on monitoring company property only; anything or anyone outside of that area would not be filmed.
What's the Big Idea?
Both surreptitious surveillance and drones are highly contentious issues in a country where over 200,000 homeowners opted out of Google's Street View project three years ago and where last month a project to develop a military drone was halted. However, graffiti cleanup costs Deutsche Bahn a reported €7.6 million (US$10 million) yearly. Assuming the drones do keep to privately-owned land, there doesn't seem to be that much difference between them and stationary surveillance cameras. Thus, with the proposed deployment, "Germany seems to be entering a legal grey area - it is not clear when the flight of a drone may become so extensive that the wider authorities need to intervene."
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