Activists talk drones, monitoring citizens

By Carlos Galvez

Privacy is diminishing as the government uses loopholes through outdated privacy acts and observing the public by using drones, according to activists who visited campus.

Three activists who had military or political backgrounds spoke at 7:15 p.m. Thursday in the Holmes Student Center’s Regency Room. They helped educate the audience on what the government may be doing that would diminish their privacy.

One activist was Medea Benjamin, founder and director of activist group CODEPINK. Benjamin said the United States is investing millions of dollars into purchasing and developing unmanned drones.

“In time, you’ll have drones visit your window disguised as a something ordinary,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin said drones are becoming one of the greatest innovations into monitoring people all around the world. Benjamin has written a book, “Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control,” about the drones and their involvement with other countries.

Another speaker was retired Col. Ann Wright, international activist. Wright resigned in 2003 and said she left her political post because she did not support the Bush administration and its decision to invade Iraq.

“I hope students here learn today about specific issues and address them at a local level,” Wright said.

Wright said the government invades people’s privacy by tracking them with cellphones and contradicting the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. Since the law has not been updated or reformed, the government can track cellphone users movements without a warrant.

Kathy Kelly, founder and director of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, said one issue was the United States government getting involved with countries that don’t require help.

“The United States government has waged wars of choice against people who meant us no harm,” Kelly said. “The greatest terror we face are the terrors of what we’re doing with our environment.”

Senior sociology major Rebekah Guillotte said she was and inspired to be an activist after attending the discussion.

“I never asked questions about the environment, and listening to these three influential women inspired me to get active,” Guillotte said.