Skip to comments.Drones Pose a Threat to Americans' Privacy: Pressure is mounting to normalize the use of drones...
Posted on 05/24/2012 8:18:37 PM PDT by neverdem
Pressure is mounting to normalize the use of drones in the United States.
"Don't drone, me, bro!"that's one way to sum up Charles Krauthammer's heated reaction to last week's news that the Federal Aviation Administration had loosened restrictions on local police departments' use of surveillance Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
"Stop it here, stop it now," Krauthammer exclaimed on Fox News's "Special Report" Monday, "I don't want to see it hovering over anybody's home. ... I'm not encouraging, but I am predicting that the first guy who uses a Second Amendment weapon to bring a drone down that's been hovering over his house is going to be a folk hero in this country."
The neoconservative Krauthammer is rarely mistaken for a civil libertarian, yet here he finds himself to the left of the ACLU. And he has a point. "Drones present a unique threat to privacy," the Electronic Privacy Information Center explains; they're designed to "undertake constant, persistent surveillance," and with special equipment, they're capable of "peering inside high-level windows," perhaps even "through solid barriers, such as fences, trees and even walls."
In several cases, the Supreme Court has held that warrantless surveillance by manned aircraft doesn't violate the Fourth Amendment. But small, cheap, maneuverable, and often undetectable drones may create cases in which a difference in degree becomes a difference in kind.
Pressure is mounting to normalize the use of drones in the United States. A 2010 Department of Defense report emphasizes the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security's need for "routine access to U.S. airspace" in order "to execute a wide range of missions including ... surveillance and tracking operations."
The Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, under the aegis of the Department of Homeland Security, has seven non-weaponized Predator drones in operation, one of which it used to assist a North Dakota sheriff with an arrest last summer, and "the FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration have used Predators for other domestic investigations," the Los Angeles Times reported in December.
From Miami, Florida, to Arlington, Texas, local police departments have received federal grants to purchase UAVs. Police in Ogden, Utah, used federal tax dollars for a surveillance blimp outfitted with night-vision cameras. "We believe it will be a deterrent to crime when it is out and about," says the mayor.
In an incident that typifies everything wrong with the growing militarization of U.S. law enforcement, members of a Houston-area sheriff's department brought some of their coolest gear out to a defense contractor's training facility last September for a drone demonstration-slash-photo op. The $300,000 "Shadowhawk" UAV they were looking to buy with DHS grant money lost control and crashed into the SWAT Team's "Bearcat" armored personnel carrier (also purchased with DHS boodle).
Not to worrythey bought a Shadowhawk drone anyway. Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel enthused: "I absolutely believe it will become a critical component on all SWAT callouts and narcotics raids and emergency management operations."
Over the past decade, the creeping militarization of the homefront has proceeded almost unnoticed, with DHS grants subsidizing the proliferation of security cameras and military ordnance for local police departments.
On April 19, Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Joe Barton, R-Texas, co-chairs of the Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus, sent a letter to the head of the FAA urging the adoption of privacy protections, given the "potential for drone technology to enable invasive and pervasive surveillance." But Congress needn't wait on Obama's FAA to start protecting Americans' privacy rights.
It's well past time we stopped sleepwalking toward dystopia and had a serious public debate about where the lines should be drawn.
Gene Healy is a vice president at the Cato Institute, the author of "The Cult of the Presidency," and a columnist at the Washington Examiner, where this article originally appeared.
Well hell, if the manual genital rape of women and children at gunpoint at airports doesn't violate the 4th, why should aircraft surveillance?
They’re making tasers small, self-contained and deliverable via something similar to a shotgun slug.
I predict they’ll be on cop UAV’s soon, or at least there will be a MAJOR effort to do that.
These drones, even the small ones, operate above visual and sound detection range from the ground.
But I wonder if a very narrow beam microphone could be mounted on a rifle, next to about a 4X20 scope? Probably it would need to be mounted on a tripod to get the high angles, like a tiny AA gun. Would the sound detection get the rifle onto the target at low visual power? Might work against the small stuff that the Podunk PD has in their inventory.
It would be interesting to brainstorm solutions to Big Brother’s looming eyes in the sky.
There seems to be a disconnect here for aviation safety.
During fair weather, VFR rules state each pilot of an aircraft see and avoid others. For drones, the "pilot" could never see as good as a manned aircraft, therefore the drones would need to rely on the up and coming ADS-B technology, where new required transponders would replace the current 1940's radar technology. Only problem is that the gov wants drones now, but ADS-B won't be required on all aircraft for another 8 years...
Drones? No worry. America was promised that seat belt. Laws would never be primary stop. So quit being scared.
Redistricting Wars: The hidden story of the 2012 elections The stupid party strikes again.
Some noteworthy articles about politics, foreign or military affairs, IMHO, FReepmail me if you want on or off my list.
Thanks for the ping!
What would be worse a bird strike or a drone strike?
Until CWII starts, blasting little ones out of the sky is problematic. At some point they'll start using acoustic gear to locate the report from the muzzle. Silencers will be at a premium. Tactics at rural marijuana fields need to be monitored, if possible.
I see the need for a silk scarf and leather jacket.
Republican Richard Nixon gave us the EPA and Democrats use it to stop industry and impoverish the land.
Republican George Bush gave us the Depart of Homeland Security and Democrats use it to destroy American’s freedom.
I’m not really sure who started the War On Drugs but both parties use it to enrich themselves and make war on American freedom.
I’m beginning to see a pattern here....
I wonder what a 1000mw laser would do to their optics? Sure, it is against the law to aim one at a piloted aircraft, but what about a drone? If you do it from a remote site, then leave before ground forces can come in, how are they going to catch you?
Thanks for the links.
I’m having to take a second look at drones over the U. S. If they are armed and circle the White House and Congress 24/7/365, it might be worth it.
Everywhere else, absolutely not.
Ah, in case anyone can’t quite scrape the brain cells together enough to realize I’m kidding, I am.
Obama will be voted out in November, and leave by normal means in January 2013. That’s fine with me, although it’s a damned shame a pretender of his caliber ever made it to the White House.
We 'mere civilians' really need to a) start building logistics networks, b) start mustering & training militias, c) start gathering intel (i.e. building spy/informant networks) d) start scenario-planning/war-gaming based on info (i.e. using c's data in b's training), and e) most importantly pray.