Anti-drone activists will march from the White House to the headquarters of drone aircraft manufacturer General Atomics on Friday ahead of a rally to "discuss strategies to stop the proliferation of drones" used for military purposes around the world, organizers said.
The Global Drone Summit, being held Saturday at the Georgetown Law Center in Washington, is being organized by CodePink, the Institute for Policy Studies, The Nation magazine, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and the National Lawyers Guild's Georgetown Chapter.
The event will feature a host of speakers from human rights organizations and academia, as well as legal experts, drone pilots, and a contingent from Yemen, a country targeted on several occasions by U.S. military drone strikes.
Among the delegation from Yemen are Faisal bin Ali Gaber, a relative of two Yemenis killed in drone strikes, and Entesar Al Qadhi, a Yemeni politician representing an area targeted by U.S. drone attacks, the organizers said.
"Yemen is now the No. 1 target for US drone strikes, and the heart-breaking story of the death of Faisal Gaber's family members is detailed in [a recent] Human Rights Watch report" on the impact of such attacks on affected areas, they said, citing recent findings by the human rights organization.
While the Global Drone Summit organizers can fairly be said to lean towards the moderate to far left, concern over military and police use of unmanned aircraft for surveillance and military activities has spiked across the political spectrum in recent years.
At the same time, different private groups have become interested in using drone technology for a variety of purposes. There are hobbyists who fly radio-controlled aircraft for fun, of course, operating commercially available drones with capabilities and ranges far inferior to those employed by the U.S. and other nations.
There have also been some eye-opening demonstrations at recent hacker conferences of flying surveillance platforms which could be used to crack local communications networks, though there haven't been reports of such snooping aircraft operating in the wild.
And perhaps the best illustration of how the attitude towards this technology hasn't yet metastasized along clear political lines surfaced just a few weeks ago.
That's when the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced a new project to encourage the use of hobby-class drone planes to monitor hunters and capture any "illegal or cruel hunting practices."
PETA is selling its remote-controlled "Air Angels" hobby drones for $324.99 to members and other interested parties through its online catalog. The organization recently deployed drone aircraft in Massachusetts to keep an eye on bowhunters, capturing video of a demonstration run that can be viewed on PETA's website.
That development prompted a response from DroneShield, a crowd-funded startup selling a Raspberry Pi-based, plug-in drone detection device, which informed PCMag that its products are currently being installed at several hunting lodges.