One of the most famous US civil liberties cases revolved around the legality of cops using thermal imagers to find indoor cannabis farms. Now, the increasing availability of easy-to-fly drones mounted with thermal imagers means it isn’t just cops who have access to the technology.
UK’s criminal underworld has seen the appearance of a new kind of drone entrepreneur — applying the thermal imager just as cops would use it to find grow ops, this criminal isn’t out to enforce the law. Instead, he’s looking to find grow ops so he can either steal the drugs for his own use, or “tax” the operation through extortion.
Of course, there’s no court to which these victims can take this new brand of thermal-cam wielding pot-hunter. Anything that’s physically possible, goes.
In the larger view, this is a particularly interesting example of what happens when technology previously available only to a limited few goes mainstream. While there are no doubt examples of police and government breaking the law, when we look at strictly peer-to-peer interactions, the rules completely change.
No longer do abstract rules and principles apply. Making the argument “that’s illegal” or “that’s not right” gets you nowhere in this territory… it’s interests, both short term and long term, that rule the day.
A world for which the spies are very well prepared, and the rest of us not so much.