“If a shooter comes into a church, for instance, and a drone is deployed and puts the shooter down, we cannot simply cheer that success,” Mr. Smith said. “We have to examine the video closely and rigorously.”
The board members who resigned said in their statement that the ethics board had warned the company for years against the use of products that can surveil people in real time.
“This type of surveillance undoubtedly will harm communities of color and others who are overpoliced, and likely well beyond that,” they said. “The Taser-equipped drone also has no realistic chance of solving the mass shooting problem Axon now is prescribing it for, only distracting society from real solutions to a tragic problem.”
One of the board members who resigned, Barry Friedman, the director of the Policing Project at the New York University School of Law, said in an interview that he was pleased Axon halted its plans for the drone project, and that he hoped the company would fully abandon it.
“I think it’s very important that we find a way to constrain the adoption of technologies, which is happening often with very little concern for harm to privacy, harms to racial justice or concerns about how much data the government holds on all of us, and what’s accessible to the government,” he said.
One of the four board members who decided to not to resign, Giles Herdale, said he hoped that, by staying on the board, he could “try and mitigate any harms caused by developments such as this.”
“What we are there to do is to try and put perspectives to give them pause to think,” said Mr. Herdale, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a London think tank that specializes in security issues.