Using Drones To Spy on Google, Facebook Headquarters


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Who watches the watchers? What about the Internet giants like Google and Facebook, companies that, thanks to their loose play with user privacy, have reams of information about the habits of their users? Who watches these guys? Judging by the title of the article, you are perhaps thinking of government entities using military drone aircraft to do so, and while there's validity to that, I'm referring more to private citizens? Do any of you keep an eye on these tech giants using the technology that's available to you?

In other words, have you ever used a drone camera to fly around and take film of one of Google's or Facebook's headquarters sites located around the world? Considering the lack of video floating around YouTube, the answer is probably "no," and with that in mind, perhaps we should be more like filmaker Caroline Campbell and her partner, visual artist Nina McGowan. As part of Dublin's "Hack The City" project, which invites "citizens of Dublin to take control and adopt a hacker mindset to bend, tweak and mash-up Dublin’s existing urban systems – rethinking the city from the ground up."

Part of this project includes using the drones to, according to Campbell, "democratise surveillance." Considering the United Kingdom's love of CCTV for surveillance of the public, the project seems very fitting, especially in a projecting looking to actively hack an urban system. Their portion of the project involved using a drone camera to film public spaces in Dublin. Wired UK's article has more:

...They then took to the skies of Dublin over a six-week period to capture a new perspective of the city. In addition to exploring some of the empty houses left over from the property boom -- ghost buildings -- the duo paid a visit to the headquarters of Facebook and Google.

Keeping to public spaces they flew the drone up alongside the buildings, allowing the camera to peer into the offices. Campbell explains: "Our argument is that Facebook has no expectation of privacy as their founder Mark Zuckerberg at one stage said privacy was no longer a social norm."

"The security guards were very aggressive. They made up lies about us crashing the drone into their windows and said we were disturbing their employees," said Campbell. "We feel that it is no more intrusive than something like Google Street View."

The video in question: