Drones for “urban warfare”

24 Apr

Writing in Salon, Jefferson Morley reports that ” the business of marketing drones to law enforcement is booming. Now that Congress has ordered the Federal Aviation Administration to open up U.S. airspace to unmanned vehicles, the aerial surveillance technology first developed in the battle space of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan is fueling a burgeoning market in North America.” Some 50 companies are pushing 150 different systems at a law enforcement agency near you. And the drones won’t just be snooping. Some will be “weaponized” too.

Has anyone thought about how these drones might/will impinge on our liberties?

While industry spokesmen say existing laws will adequately protect civil liberties and privacy, Congress held no hearings on the implications of domestic drones, and a wide range of opponents insist the drones pose a threat to privacy.

In Washington, activist groups Code Pink, Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights are holding a “drone summit” this week, declaring it is “time to organize to end current abuses and to prevent the potentially widespread misuse both overseas and here at home.”

The FAA “has the opportunity and the responsibility to ensure that the privacy of individuals is protected and that the public is fully informed about who is using drones in public airspace and why,” said U.S. Reps. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Joe Barton, R-Texas, in a letter to the FAA last week.

“How will the public be notified about when and where drones are used, who will operate the drones, what data will be collected, how the data will be used, how the data will be retained and who will have access to the date?” they asked.

The companies who sell this stuff say there’s no problem. Do you believe them?

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