German To Test Drones To Combat Graffiti On Railways

The move will have to pass Germany's strict anti-surveillance laws first, though.

Germany's national railway company—the Deutsche Bahn—will soon test airborne infrared cameras in its fight against graffiti. Vandalism, most of which occurs at night, costs the firm $10 million per year. Footage gleaned from drones could help prosecute offenders and act as a deterrent to others.

Each drone, which flies almost 500 feet above the ground, will cost around 77,500 euros. They would be deployed around Deutsche Bahn's largest rail depots, and film nothing else, to assuage any privacy concerns.

As the presence of unmanned aerial vehicles becomes more prevalent in everyday life, so does the confusion about what is and isn't legal about this form of information gathering.

Germany, which last week canceled its Euro Hawk surveillance drone project, has long been a champion of the individual's right to freedom. Last year, it launched the Verein Selbstregulierung Informationswirtschaft, or the Association for I.T. Self-Regulation. It allows users to blur or remove images of their homes, cars, or even themselves. Google, Nokia, and Microsoft all joined the cause. A quarter of a million of Germans have also opted out of Google's Street View, despite the Internet giant's professed care with users' private data.

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