BIG BROTHER: Obama’s plan for drones in U.S.

Pamela Seley explains how drones could be used in U.S. airspace, especially after 2015.

Obama’s plutocracy has fanned the flames of civil rights supporters. Both Democrats and Republicans are joining together to bring legislation limiting the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), or drones, for law enforcement and other potential non-military use in U.S. airspace.

predator-firing-missile4Obama’s plan is to integrate drones in U.S. skies by the fall of 2015. What impact will drones have on Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights? Drone technology is far-more advanced than a police helicopter flying over your backyard looking for a runaway criminal. Drones have facial recognition technology, infrared cameras, and the ability to read license plates. Has Big Brother arrived? Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that no armed drones will be permitted in the skies, could drones in the future become a shortcut to eliminating due process by law enforcement or the government when convenient?

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said last Friday that drones are more important than Hagel, and domestic drone strike program should be the “preeminent libertarian concern.” Sen Paul also said that “…the most important question and the most important constitutional issue is whether or not the president can kill American citizens through the drone strike program on U.S. soil.”

On February 15, 2013, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight held a hearing with officials from the Federal Aviation Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Government Accountability Office to testify on progress the FAA is making with its congressional mandate to integrate drones into the national airspace system.

The FAA is currently seeking six drone test sites. Independent Aviation News Resource (AVweb) reported that FAA is accepting proposals from state and local governments, universities and other public entities to develop the six sites.

Gerald Dillingham, director of Civil Aviation Issues at the Government Accountability Office said at the hearing that privacy is a major concern. In its press release the FAA invited the public’s review and will consider all comments submitted as it develops final privacy requirements.

drone copter smallIn September of last year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its report “UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS — Measuring Progress and Addressing Potential Privacy Concerns Would Facilitate Integration into the National Airspace System” (pdf).

In the GAO report: “…privacy concerns include the potential for increased amounts of government surveillance using technologies placed on UAS, the collection and use of such data, and potential violations of constitutional Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizures.” Also, “Currently, no federal agency has specific statutory responsibility to regulate privacy matters relating to UAS for the entire federal government.” Is this a red flag that there will be another federal agency needed to regulate the use of drones?

The Congressional Research Service (CRS), Congress’s think tank, also stated in January 2013 report, “The tension between security and privacy interests is not new, but has been heightened by the explosion of surveillance technology in recent decades.”

In December last year, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced H.R. 6676, the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act (DAPTA) to amend “the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act to include privacy protection provisions.” The bill was referred to the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade.

On February 4, 2013 Virginia passed a two-year moratorium on police and government use of drones. Sen. Donald McEachin  (D-VA) said, “Our founders had no conception of things that would fly over them at night and peer into their backyards and send signals back to a home base.”

Rep. Rick Becker (R-ND) is proposing a bill to regulate the use of drones to make sure their use is not abused. Rep. Becker says he’s not out to hinder police, but that it’s a matter of privacy. Rep. Al Carlson, Republican House majority leader from ND supports the opportunity to debate the bill, and said, “Invasion of privacy is always important to North Dakotans.”

Pamela Seley is a regular contributor to The Brenner Brief. Twitter: @PamelaSeley

Pamela Seley is a regular contributor to The Brenner Brief. Twitter: @PamelaSeley

Other states proposing similar legislation are California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Missouri, Michigan and Indiana.

Citizens of Alameda County California voiced their concerns over privacy issues at a hearing with the Sheriff’s Office after the Sheriff proposed to purchase a drone for surveillance on “suspicious persons,” “large crowd control disturbances,” and “counter-terrorism applications.” Citizens can have an impact on their local government; after the hearing the Sheriff agreed to revisit his proposal.

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  1. Reblogged this on Road To Armageddon And Beyond.

  2. regulate it’s use? they need to ban it altogether. of course they would still do it but then the onus is on them to prove how they got the informaiton they needed to prosecute someone when they didn’t have a warrant. but the corruption runs deep and it may not matter anyway.

  3. Drones should be banned, no doubt about it. Government can spy on citizens using the internet, and soon with drones. Big brother is here.

  4. richardbaris says:

    Pamela… Great column! No doubt about it. Drones operating in the CONUS should in fact be completely banned. Drones attacking an American citizen outside CONUS should be public review. GREAT WORK!

  5. Richard, not sure if folks know what’s going on. Thank you!

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