Hacking The Drone War’s Secret History

 

 

 

” In 2008 U.S. troops in Iraq discovered that Shi’ite insurgents had figured out how to tap and record video feeds from overhead American drones. Now you too can hack Washington’s globe-spanning fleet of silent, deadly armed robots — although legally, and only in an historical sense.

Josh Begley, a 28-year-old NYU grad student, has just created an application programming interface — basically, a collection of building blocks for software development — that allows anyone with basic coding skills to organize, analyze and visualize drone-strike data from Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia dating back to 2002.

Based on information collected by the U.K. Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the API can be used to create interactive Websites (similar to this) that add depth, context and even a little humanity to the sterile news reports of the latest Unmanned Aerial Vehicle strike in some far-away conflict zone.

The drone API, which is actually Begley’s master’s thesis, is not his first foray into capturing robot-attack data. His @dronestream Twitter feed, which documents all reported UAV attacks. Last year Begley created an iPhone app that tracks drone strikes, but Apple rejected it. Other developers have jumped on the bandwagon, too. London-based artist James Bridle runs a Tumblr blog that matches overhead satellite imagery to reports of drone attacks.”