Police drones, and the Supreme Court’s web cases

In the skies above Chula Vista, California, where the police department runs a drone program 10 hours a day, seven days a week, it’s not uncommon to see an unmanned aerial vehicle darting across the sky.

Chula Vista is one of a dozen departments in the US that operate what are called drone-as-first-responder programs, where drones are dispatched by pilots, who are listening to live 911 calls, and often arrive first at the scenes of accidents, emergencies, and crimes, cameras in tow.

But many argue that police forces’ adoption of drones is happening too quickly. The use of drones as surveillance tools and first responders is a fundamental shift in policing, one without a well-informed public debate around privacy regulations, tactics, and limits. Also little evidence available of its efficacy, with scant proof that drone policing reduces crime.

Now Chula Vista is being sued to release drone footage, illustrating how privacy and civil liberty groups are increasingly worried that the technology will dramatically expand surveillance capabilities and lead to even more police interactions with demographics that have historically suffered. Read the full story.

—Patrick Sisson

Four ways the Supreme Court could reshape the web

All eyes were on the US Supreme Court last week as it weighed up arguments for two cases relating to recommendation algorithms and content moderation, both core parts of how the internet works. While we won’t get a ruling on either case for a few months yet, when we do, it could be a Very Big Deal.

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