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Domestic Use of Aerial Drones By Law Enforcement

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the eye-in-the-sky dept.

Privacy 299

PatPending writes "Aerial drones are now used by the Texas Department of Public Safety; the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, Colorado; the Miami-Dade County, Florida, Police Department; and the Department of Homeland Security. But what about privacy concerns? 'Drones raise the prospect of much more pervasive surveillance,' said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. 'We are not against them, absolutely. They can be a valuable tool in certain kinds of operations. But what we don't want to see is their pervasive use to watch over the American people.'"

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But its ok for Google? (3, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980086)

But its ok for Google?

Re:But its ok for Google? (4, Funny)

flyneye (84093) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980104)

Just build a small EMP generator. You may fry tech for blocks around but that drone will drop like a fly sprayed w/ RAID.

Re:But its ok for Google? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980170)

Funny you should mention it...I think my new firework display, which I call the "EMP Sky Dragon Surprise", will be ready for the 4th of July!

Re:But its ok for Google? (1)

doti (966971) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980198)

It will be outlawed, if it's not already.

Re:But its ok for Google? (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980458)

if you outlaw tac nukes, only criminals will have....

Ok, it gets silly at a certain level.

Re:But its ok for Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980902)

The FCC has rules and regulations regarding unauthorized transmissions of any electromagnetic signal. I'd think that covers EMPs but I'm not a lawyer, expert, or an FCC worker.

Re:But its ok for Google? (4, Interesting)

Algorithmnast (1105517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980224)

Hopefully the parent will get modded up for humor. But if taken seriously, it's still a good segue into useful discussion.

It'd be pretty easy to land in jail for that, as well. The "fried tech" would establish a radius, and therefore a center. And while you can try to do a covert op and put it in a box that's remote-controlled (blah, blah, blah, etc, etc, etc), it's amazing how good government forensics can get when you've actually annoyed the government.

It would seem to be one way to get labeled with the terrier-ist word...

Plus - have you considered what such a stunt would do for our individual "rights"? The Supreme Court has already declared that when you're in public spaces (including outside a building) you have no expectation of not being recorded both visually and audibly.

Re:But its ok for Google? (4, Insightful)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980438)

And yet that never seems to stop the police from charging people with all sorts of things when you record THEM doing their jobs outside. Especially when they do their job repeatedly, with great force.

Re:But its ok for Google? (4, Interesting)

Cytotoxic (245301) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980538)

Funny you should mention that [theagitator.com] - in this case the person arrested was trying to file a complaint about police misconduct and ran into a bureaucratic wall, so she recorded her final attempt on her blackberry. Many months later they are still starting their investigation into the police misconduct, but they wasted no time in getting her arrested and charged for making the recording.

Re:But its ok for Google? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980610)

1) buy stock in commercially-available surveillance-equipment company

2) Make comments on Slashdot guiding people towards using home-mounted cameras to watch the police

3) Profit!

Re:But its ok for Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980634)

Unless you're a cop

Re:But its ok for Google? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980704)

it's amazing how good government forensics can get when you've actually annoyed the government.

"Annoyed"? You set off an EMP that fries a couple of blocks or more worth of everything electronic, and you're gonna find yourself classed as an extremely important terrorism target.

Something like that will launch a full-court press of lettered agencies -- I think that's the kind of thing that would send them all ape-shit.

That's like Bond-villain kind of stuff if you do it in a major city.

Re:But its ok for Google? (1)

Algorithmnast (1105517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980874)

I equate governmental anger to the government causing a body count.

And it's an EMP that's local, then it's unlikely to frighten the government...

So yeah, annoyance.

While parts of the government may get violently angry about such a thing, the gov as a whole probably wouldn't be violently angry. If I get bitten by a mosquito, then the cells in the affected area are normally inflamed, but I as a person only want to squash the one mosquito.

And there's no real (long-lasting, or wide-spread) anger over it.

Re:But its ok for Google? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#34981028)

While parts of the government may get violently angry about such a thing, the gov as a whole probably wouldn't be violently angry.

I think if you set off an EMP in a major city, the citizenry would reach a level of anger and fear that would more or less give the government carte-blanche to put you into a deep, dark hole.

Do this in someplace like New York, and you're going to see some long-lasting, wide-spread anger over this. I suspect such a thing would likely cost lives if you were near a hospital or something critical.

You think frying the electronics of a major city wouldn't do this? I can't see how that would be classified as anything but terrorism. I think you grossly misunderstand just how much of a reaction this would evoke.

Re:But its ok for Google? (1)

DigiTechGuy (1747636) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980978)

Unless your a "public servant", then you have every expectation of complete privacy in public places and if recording devices are used... Someone's likely to get arrested along with some hefty fines.

Re:But its ok for Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980690)

Electric field has cube root decay, no? Therefore ineffective over the sort of ranges you'd need, and with a radial distribution, a silly idea. A nicely focused maser or laser on the other hand...!

Re:But its ok for Google? (0, Troll)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980284)

If you don't understand the difference between Google and the police department, you deserve to have your civil rights violated.

Re:But its ok for Google? (4, Insightful)

FuckingNickName (1362625) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980378)

Indeed. Google have no right to invade property or privacy, while the police have a right when they have gone through arduous democratically approved processes.

Flying a drone over your house to take photos is no different from using an infrared camera and sensitive microphone from the street... say, to watch your daughter in the shower.

It's time Americans stopped taking it up the ass while they quibble over "rights of corporations" vs "rights of government". Whenever there's a massive power imbalance, the more powerful party needs careful oversight and should not be allowed to take advantage of you, only serve you (government/charity/mutual) or trade for mutual benefit (private party). No exceptions.

Texas Budget shortfall for 2011 (5, Interesting)

transporter_ii (986545) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980092)

A budget shortfall as high as $25 billion is projected as lawmakers head into the 2011 legislative session,

Nice to know they have money to burn to spy on me...

Re:Texas Budget shortfall for 2011 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980310)

Yeah but, in Texas and Florida for that matter, you have one of the freest gun ownership laws in the Union - that makes you freer than the rest of us!

So, when the Gobberment spies on you, you can take out yer six gun and .... stand there impotently because if you actually shoot the drone, I bet a brick of Walmart .22LR that it would be considered assault on a police officer under Texas law. Then they'd send the SWAT team with root'in toot'in shoot'in Texas Marshals or whatever they call themselves to compensate for their small penises - YEE HAW! *bang* *bang* *bang*

Re:Texas Budget shortfall for 2011 (5, Informative)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980400)

Yeah but, in Texas and Florida for that matter, you have one of the freest gun ownership laws in the Union - that makes you freer than the rest of us!

Actually Texas has some of the worst gun ownership laws. Many are unconstitutional according to both the US Constitution and the state's constitution. Only recently have they been expanded to allow allow for proper legal protection for gun owners. In fact, the right to safely stow a weapon (hidden and under lock and key) in your own vehicle, when at work, even with a concealed license, was just recently struck down. Which means, even with a concealed handgun license, the laws prevent most people from being able to protect themselves while in transit. Furthermore, Texas is one of the few states which does not allow open carry in some form or fashion.

People like to think Texas is a throw back to the wild west. In reality, only a couple of years back, Texas was ranked toward the bottom for gun owner rights. Now, Texas is somewhere in the bottom, top third.

Regardless of what you may think, Texas is absolutely NOT, "one of the [states with the] freest gun ownership laws in the Union". There are many, many states which are in front of Texas in this regard.

Re:Texas Budget shortfall for 2011 (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980318)

Well they expect to raise $50 billion from the new $5000 "untidy yard" fine that will automatically be added to people's property tax when the drone starts taking pictures of people's yards.

I am joking of course, but this is how governments think.

Re:Texas Budget shortfall for 2011 (3, Interesting)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980722)

Well they expect to raise $50 billion from the new $5000 "untidy yard" fine that will automatically be added to people's property tax when the drone starts taking pictures of people's yards.

In Henrico county, in VA, they have an ordanace that says you can't use inside furniture outside of your home. The idea is apparently to stop people putting couches on the front porch. However a local couple got into trouble for having a bathtub in their backyard used as a planter. I believe it was not visible from the street, and the pics I saw showed that it was very nicely done (not a rusted out heap used as a planter by default). They ended up in court over this. So your joke is not very far from reality

Then stop voting for them! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980662)

I'm sick and tired of seeing people complain about how their lawmakers screw them over. And then seeing people fighting tooth and nail over the relative merits of Democrats vs. Republican.

Here's a clue, people: it doesn't matter one iota which of those two parties is in control: you are going to be complaining about how much they are screwing you over regardless. The simple fact is that the #1 core principle of the established political parties is to keep themselves established. Any #2 is about 1/100th as important as that one.

I'm starting to think the Metagovernment people are our only hope. It may be a disaster, but I don't see how it could be any worse than the totalitarian state these guys are building.

Re:Texas Budget shortfall for 2011 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980676)

Three years ago, the Houston Police Dept. was discovered to have been testing an aerial drone. At that time, and amidst some media scrutiny and because they were caught, rather than having announced before the fact, the idea was publicly shelved. Budget savings was never mentioned in the embarrassed apologizing afterward. Houston has had several high profile chases since, and they were covered full time by many police helicopters, and of the self same media that first began warning us of the potential for some sort of unspecified (privacy?) abuse. Having lived in Miami, Houston, Chicago, New York and several other largish North American metroplexes, I think that a drone offers the taxpayers the opportunity for the kind of surveillance now undertaken by piloted helicopters at a fraction of the price. The Houston version had an 8 foot wingspan, and was tossed aloft to launch. Got to be cheaper to operate and own than the $4+ million per for the most commonly used (European) police chopper. Hell, it'd be fun to build my own and do a little traffic feed for my commute home...keep an eye on my garden...

Re:Texas Budget shortfall for 2011 (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980846)

They are a lot cheaper then helicopters. And I think a lot of it will depend on how they are used just like everything else.
How is a drone all that different than a police helicopter or a patrol car?
And let's think of the positive use cases. Yes I am all for not being under 24 7 surveillance but having a small drone that a police officer can use to see where a sniper is or to find an armed robber that took off into a field isn't such a bad thing.
And just to defuse the rhetoric. Yes snipers are rare but armed robberies are not. Having a small hand launched drone that provides video for a police officer I am okay with. Having a larger drone to suplment a police helicopter I am okay with. A sky filled with long endurance drones over every city and town I am not okay with at all.

so who's already figured out.. (1)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980094)

...how to down these things with something other than a bullet? If they start using them for anything other than special occasions, I want to see them drop out of the skies like those birds from a couple weeks ago..

Re:so who's already figured out.. (3, Interesting)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980134)

If you can make out the details so you know it's a drone, it's probably close enough for the field of an EPFCG to fry it. Not that I'd condone that sort of thing, just sayin'...

Re:so who's already figured out.. (4, Informative)

Bowdie (11884) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980156)

Holy shit. I just wiki'd EPFCG :

An explosively pumped flux compression generator (EPFCG) is a device used to generate a high-power electromagnetic pulse by compressing magnetic flux using high explosive.

An EPFCG can be used only once as a pulsed power supply since the device is physically destroyed during operation. An EPFCG package that could be easily carried by a person can produce pulses in the millions of amperes and tens of terawatts, exceeding the power of a lightning strike by orders of magnitude. They require a starting current pulse to operate, usually supplied by capacitors.

Like I say, HOLY SHIT.

Re:so who's already figured out.. (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980228)

Aim coil at drone, charge, stand back, fire explosive, laugh. I rest my case.
Just use it responsibly.

Re:so who's already figured out.. (2)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980250)

An EPFCG can be used only once as a pulsed power supply since the device is physically destroyed during operation.

Which implies that you will depositing a generous supply of forensic evidence for the investigation to come.

Re:so who's already figured out.. (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980188)

Is it illegal to use laser pens against these things?

Re:so who's already figured out.. (0)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980272)

Is it illegal to use laser pens against these things?

yes, but you could try your lays-her penis against one.

Re:so who's already figured out.. (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980332)

Well the government has these "catch all" laws, like "obstruction of justice" and "destruction of government property" if they fail to come up with specific charges to throw against you.

Re:so who's already figured out.. (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34981058)

you also forgot "interfering with a police investigation", "failure to comply with a lawful order" and "resisting arrest".

Re:so who's already figured out.. (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980218)

It would be safer (and probably more useful in practice) to figure out a way to find out where they are or if they are overhead. You are unlikely to spot them just glancing into the sky, but they radiate RF, and that should be detectable.

Re:so who's already figured out.. (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980282)

Almost everything radiates RF these days. Unless you know the carrier frequency, your detector is going to get swamped by signals: cellphones, RFID, GDOs, pagers, car alarms, radio and TV broadcasts, WIFI, etc; there's just too much junk out there to sweep blindly.

Re:so who's already figured out.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980992)

I don't know where you live, but where I live there aren't that many cellphones, Wifis, TV antennas, etc. floating in the sky above me. Use a directional antenna.

hack, hack, hack... (2)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980646)

...how to down these things with something other than a bullet? If they start using them for anything other than special occasions, I want to see them drop out of the skies like those birds from a couple weeks ago..

Hack them.

It's just a flying government computer.

And that's in fact what scares me the most... they're just flying government computers... so any fool can probably hack into a flying weapon system.

(All the EMP stuff is fun, but not very practical).

What we don't want... (1)

Sabz5150 (1230938) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980096)

"But what we don't want to see is their pervasive use to watch over the American people." Too late.

Expectation of privacy (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980602)

Indeed. Judges in the USA have already ruled that nobody ever has a legal expectation of privacy.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (3, Insightful)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980098)

Cheap drones can also be used to do surveillance of police stops by civil rights organizations.
Let's wait how they like that.

Re:Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (1)

ehrichweiss (706417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980142)

So you're suggesting that the civil rights organizations would use a drone for surveillance? I can think of a few ways to put a camera in the air a lot cheaper than those drones; probably under $200 each.

Re:Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980230)

I can think of a few ways to put a camera in the air a lot cheaper than those drones; probably under $200 each.

Such as? If you just want to put it in the air, you can throw it for free, but when you want to keep it up there, steady enough to do surveillance, for 20-50 minutes at a time, it gets a bit more pricey.

Re:Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980360)

Think old fashioned - Napoleon used hot air balloons to spot for his troops over 100 years before the airplane was invented. If you want an eye in the sky over a fixed location, a big strong helium balloon will work for you. Not saying it's a responsible use for the world's limited supply of helium, but still...

Re:Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980424)

It also announces to everyone in the surrounding fifty miles or so, "Hey, someone's doing a bit of aerial surveillance over here!" It seems like the sort of activity you'd want to be a bit more discreet about, you know?

Re:Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980528)

It's a weather balloon, I'm a hobby meteorologist. I don't believe the crap they tell on TV, so I do my own weather forecast. Is that forbidden now?

Re:Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980858)

so I do my own weather forecast. Is that forbidden now?

In the land of the free, it probably is.

Re:Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980936)

Not right now, but now it is.

Re:Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980886)

It seems like the sort of activity you'd want to be a bit more discreet about, you know?

Not if you're complying with FAA regulations and not breaking any laws. After all, what does the government have to worry about if it's not doing anything wrong?

Re:Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980216)

Sure, they shouldn't mind, since they have nothing to hide, of course.

Re:Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (2)

Algorithmnast (1105517) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980248)

Hm... then the FAA gets involved and requires FAA licensure of anything that's not tethered and has directional control or flight stability.

IOW - balloons can still be released upwards, but no privately-owned drones - only government and corporate.

If you don't want them to see your ... (0)

Skapare (16644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980122)

... junk ... then close the skylight.

Re:If you don't want them to see your ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980182)

just testing really.

How low can it fly? (4, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980998)

I wonder what would be the minimum legal height at which one can fly.

If a plane goes twenty thousand feet above your property, that seems to be perfectly legal. If one of those drones flies two feet above your property that seems like trespassing to me.

Is there some minimum height agt which an aircraft must fly over private property without authorization from the owner?

If you are doing nothing wrong... and wikileaks (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980126)

If you're doing nothing wrong, you shouldn't mind being watched by cops (i.e. don't drive over speedlimits - ever).
Of course this same thinking also applies to Politicians and their being monitored by wikileaks (yes I'm a fan).

Re:If you are doing nothing wrong... and wikileaks (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980274)

If you're doing nothing wrong, you shouldn't mind being watched by cops (i.e. don't drive over speedlimits - ever).
Of course this same thinking also applies to Politicians and their being monitored by wikileaks (yes I'm a fan).

AND adjust the laws so going 75 (like everybody already does) on the interstate through farmland isn't a crime.

Re:If you are doing nothing wrong... and wikileaks (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980410)

They'll then have to pay more money to make sure the highway is suitably-maintained to allow such speeds safely, and ensure that everyone's driving test procedure is stringent enough to make sure people can safely drive that fast.

Re:If you are doing nothing wrong... and wikileaks (1)

theaveng (1243528) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980566)

Congressional law requires all interstates (except local loops or extensions) maintain safety standards for 120 miles an hour. Why? So the army can move quickly.

Re:If you are doing nothing wrong... and wikileaks (1)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980860)

the only thing that moves 120 miles an hour or more in the Army are helicopters and privates after the constipatory effect of MREs has worn off.

Re:If you are doing nothing wrong... and wikileaks (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980398)

I think there are limits to this kind of thinking. Would you like to be watched by the cops in the toilet? How about in your bedroom? What about your back yard?

I myself am not really bothered by CCTV cameras everywhere in public, but my house and my property are not public. It's one thing for a helicopter to momentarily follow a crook as he dashes across people's back yards, and it's another to be under potential observation 24/7.

Re:If you are doing nothing wrong... and wikileaks (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980416)

If you're doing nothing wrong, you shouldn't mind being watched by cops

The simplistic refutation of this simplistic argument is: Why do you have curtains on your windows?

I'm not entirely the idea of using drones. (3, Interesting)

Petbe (1790948) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980128)

So long as the drones are used to create only hatcheries and no sunken colonies, I will be ok. But in all seriousness, I do believe that the aerial drones can play a vital role to Law Enforcement. So long as they are quite secure (so not to be used by a third party) and that they have enough red tape in their use so at least minimize abuse, I am all for them. I will not be so idealistic in believing that there would be enough regulation in their uses that their will be absolutely zero abuses. I hate to be a consequentialist, but I think their uses outweigh the potential harm in some people's liberties. Granted, it is a slipper slope. But for me, I do realize that nothing in life is free. With freedom comes responsibility, and with protection comes restrictions on said freedoms freedoms. There is no perfect balance, nor is is perfect with either extreme. Just hope it is regulated enough to where it creates some form of balance.

Re:I'm not entirely the idea of using drones. (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980292)

I think you verb in your subject.

Re:I'm not entirely the idea of using drones. (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980490)

The responsibility (ie price) of freedom is not giving UP that freedom it is accepting that life comes with a certain degree of danger and uncertainty, and that if you give up your freedom in the name of safety you will wind up with neither.

Re:I'm not entirely the idea of using drones. (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980790)

I hate to be a consequentialist, but I think their uses outweigh the potential harm in some people's liberties.

On what evidence to you make such a conclusion? Given that London's pervasive use of CCTV cameras has failed to make people there safer [guardian.co.uk] and that other cities have also found them ineffective in preventing violent crime [notbored.org] , why do you think that putting a CCTV camera in a drone has positive benefits that outweigh the chilling effects of their certain use to spy on political dissidents? If you want to know how something like this will really be used, check out the recent Frontline report on domestic surveillance [pbs.org] .

Re:I'm not entirely the idea of using drones. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34981042)

The swarm is coming.

The trouble with drones (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980130)

If you are in your own house, you can't expect privacy from people in the street if your curtains are not drawn. With a drone you can't expect privacy if you are outdoors even if you are in your own backyard - but it is rather hard to draw a curtain over your backyard.

Re:The trouble with drones (1)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980258)

Privacy or sunshine. Pick one.

Re:The trouble with drones (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980568)

You're talking on /.
Do I really have to tell you how the people here would choose? And, bluntly, so would I.

It is always something (1)

moteyalpha (1228680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980140)

If you want to avoid them you have to go in the sewers, then you have to deal with the manhacks.

What is the privacy concern? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980148)

What is the privacy concern?

As far as I know, they can't see inside of your home or your office unless you let them (open the blinds/curtains). When you are outside of your home, you have no (zero, zip, zilch) expectation of privacy while in public view.

This is why I don't get the "privacy concerns" with various monitoring systems. I'm not saying I approve of surveillance. I'm saying "privacy" is the wrong tool to use against it. Yeah, many people feel violated that they are being watched. Well, some people anyway. Most people couldn't give 2 shits about it.

Red light and speed cameras are bad because, at least in the USA, they tend to be run by private entities with a profit motive. Their first priority is to make money, not to catch criminals. (lets face it, the city is the same way, but the public can vote them out) This is a much better argument against these systems than "privacy concerns".

As for drones...I'd have to learn more about the program.

Re:What is the privacy concern? (2)

dex22 (239643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980354)

Because they don't just operate n the visible spectrum. Using infrared, they know people are in specific locations in a house. In England, where this practice is common, it is a regular event for houses to be raided for drug "grow rooms" just because of an unusual heat signature. Often, it's just been a poor insulation job in winter, and you DON'T get any apology.

Worse, in the UK for example, if your electricity usage unexpectedly increases, you'll have the same raid and lack of apology.

It's the combining of this archived video data with other data sources that makes this an intrusion that goes INSIDE your home and crosses the line to being an unlawful search, if you hold the view that infrared is not "in plain sight" as many do.

Re:What is the privacy concern? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980702)

Cell phones to find or trace voice prints or numbers of interest ie state and city techs get to play NSA.
How soon before the bankrupt states/cities with a need need to 'confiscate" and IRS go Greek and think of looking for "expensive" things they cannot see from the road?
http://www.zerohedge.com/article/greek-tax-avoidance-101-cover-your-swimming-pool-tarp-fool-satellite [zerohedge.com]
Are you living and upgrading your property beyond the local average poverty level/tax return and have unknown extra funds to invest in a real pool?
Add in under taxed farms, expensive cars, water use, expensive new solar ect.

Choppers (1)

Aryden (1872756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980150)

It is honestly no different that police forces using helicopters to patrol high crime areas.

Re:Choppers (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980278)

It is honestly no different that police forces using helicopters to patrol high crime areas.

I agree. As long as the drones are the types described in the first featured article and can't stay in the air longer than 1 hr, I don't see how this is worse than choppers. Just as long as they don't start using drones that have more endurance. It would be wise to make this distinction in whatever legislature authorizes this.

Re:Choppers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980730)

Endurance is only part of the problem, for the price of a chopper, you could have 100's of drones in a police force. The endurance is the same, probably less than a helicopter, but the level of survaliance used by the police has increased to the point where it's cheap enough to say keeping a drone above any given town just in case it's needed.

Re:Choppers (2)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980394)

It is honestly no different that police forces using helicopters to patrol high crime areas.

I'd disagree. One of the reasons the military uses drones is that they are more stealthy than helicopters or planes, so the "enemy" has less chance of detecting them. But to give you an (obvisously imaginary example) if you heard/saw a chopper flying around the neighborhood, you wouldn't have sex on your roof top in the middle of the day. However you are likely to miss the presence of a drone, and I can guarantee that a drone operator would certainly take a diversionary break for a bit of peeping tom foolery. And yes I agree that the crims would also hide if they saw a chopper or drone, but if you know of new stealthy drones in the area you would start to modify your *legal* behavior or face potential embarrasment and humiliation. Once that happens you are one step closer to the police state.

Re:Choppers (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980616)

The difference is obviousness and price.

They are more stealthy, so their use would not get as much attention as the use of police choppers. Today you have a few police choppers every now and then, imagine them being overhead constantly, do you think people wouldn't get a wee bit irritated?

Also, it's heaps cheaper to operate such a drone. You'll see them used more often and you'll see more of them used, simply because the inhibition to send them up would be way lower.

Re:Choppers (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980804)

Yes, it is different:

1) Choppers are loud. You can hear them coming and its not a secret when they're there.
2) Choppers have live people in them. The police are in there and if they see you, they really saw you. It's not streaming from a camera to a location which has the capacity to record everything and be reviewed over and over again, at will.
3) Drones are just creepy. Even the word creeps me out.

So what you're saying is.... (2)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980892)

...there's another Ghetto Bird for Ice Cube to run from?

God DAMN Bush! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980162)

That man is just plain evil.

In the UK... (1)

biodata (1981610) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980178)

we taxpayers spent billions in the previous decade building a CCTV spy network under the guise of law enforcement and guess what - it hardly solved any crimes. This will be the same thing with wings on (or prop blades) and is probably nothing to do with law enforcement and more to do with giving tax payers money to rich defense contractors who are buddys of the people looking after your money.

Re:In the UK... (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980236)

Wrong. They have helped to solve quite a lot of crimes (though probably not enough to justify the cost and invasion of privacy), but what they haven't done is help to reduce crime (although in a few cases they have relocated crime to an area with lower CCTV coverage which can give the appearance of reducing crime if you don't look at the numbers too closely).

These will be abused (4, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980194)

The same police who shoot people and routinely lie [king5.com] about it and almost never get punished can be trusted not to use these new toys to spy on people salaciously ? What BS. What will happen if they are caught ? Nothing. So, it will go on.

 

Re:These will be abused (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34980586)

It is a sad that a comment that essentially amounts to F--- THE POLICE gets modded up.

The officer is quite possibly not lying. Whether or not his story is actually true, he may well believe he saw what he is saying he saw. Grossman's On Combat covers numerous cases of people involved in shootings incorrectly remembering details (both significant and insignificant) prior to, during, and immediately after the shooting. It is quite a common occurrence. That being said, there should still be an investigation to determine whether the officer is suitable to be patrolling the streets. Assuming that the shooting was not justified, it is unlikely that this officer is guilty of cold blooded murder, but rather use of an inappropriate level of force. There is a moral, if not necessarily legal, distinction.

Re:These will be abused (1)

Toze (1668155) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980942)

Unless they have drones watching the drones, these things are also great target practice. Not that I'm advocating destruction of public property, I'm just sayin' some problems solve each other.

Drones bad, helicopters good? (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980232)

What do the drones do that is different that police helicopters? Aside from being cheaper?

Re:Drones bad, helicopters good? (0, Flamebait)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980288)

What do the drones do that is different that police helicopters? Aside from being cheaper?

They can crash and burn without producing crispy bacon.

Re:Drones bad, helicopters good? (1)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980300)

If they get cheap enough, they can have ubiquitous coverage. This is never going to happen with helicopters because they cost too much and consume too much in the way of manpower.

On the other hand, a fleet of drones feeding data back into an expert system would a much further reaching and valuable source of data - so much so that you can bet within a few years that there will be companies lobbying for the ability to buy the data so they can analyze it to see where they should plunk their next Starbucks. Or worse.

It's like the difference between git and CVS ; doing things faster and cheaper might just seem like cost cutting, but also enables use cases that were previously impractical or not even thought of.

Re:Drones bad, helicopters good? (2)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980536)

What do the drones do that is different that police helicopters? Aside from being cheaper?

Potentially impact other aircraft which DO have people and/or passengers aboard. Or create legal problems for pilots for "pop up" airspace changes.

Re:Drones bad, helicopters good? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980922)

A loitering drone network feeding into false color crime maps and 3d stats to be enjoyed by local underfunded cops.
So if they wanted to mess with you while driving it was a bit random without a gps tracker. Now they can find you the second you walk out the front door, 24/7.
Makes you rethink about that court case, complaint, next peace protest, political rally ect.
Your unknown face and a well made picket sign is no longer such a mystery.
Walk, ride, car, bus back from a local event, your home or a friends home ect. can be noted.
Expect a friendly visit about pre-crimes.

Does using an umbrella in clear weather... (1)

Two99Point80 (542678) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980494)

...become "suspicious activity", if the drone can't get a good look at you?

The real Mechanical Hound? (1)

Akratist (1080775) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980580)

The really scary sentence in the article is "And the most sophisticated robotics use artificial intelligence to seek out and record certain kinds of suspicious activity." So, all of a sudden, we have drones that are flying around and are programmed to look for suspicious behavior...is it suspicious to wave at a drone to show you have nothing to hide? Or is it suspicious to ignore it? Of course, in time, these drones will be armed -- non-lethal munitions at first (like tear gas), then probably something a little more potent as defense contractor sales reps convince police departments they need to deal with American citizens just like the military deals with potential insurgents (you know, someone herding a couple of goats).

Missing reference: Blue Thunder (3, Insightful)

v1z (126905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980744)

Seriously, no ones mentioned Blue Thunder in this thread yet?

Ok, so it wasn't unmanned, but definitely relevant...

The imdb summary http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085255/ [imdb.com] even states:

    "The cop test pilot for an experimental police helicopter learns the sinister implications of the new vehicle."

1983 wants its privacy concerns back.

hey, this is what you all asked for, isn't it? (2, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980864)

This is criticized by the typical /. crowd as "OMFG look at the fascist government spying on us!" but really it's exactly what many of you wanted, if you just looked at your expectations rationally.

Every iota of power you give government (and in the US we have nobody to blame but ourselves and our neighbors), understand that is an equal amount of control they give you.

Let's look at government-run health care: the moment you say that the government must be attentive to everyone's health care needs (regardless of their own stupid choices in life), you immediately give the government logical power over your health care as well: do you smoke? what do you eat? do you participate in risky sports? All of these things suddenly become part of the government's purview.

Further, if you insist that the government and the law is required to correct every (perceived or real) defect in civil behavior, then you concede that the law has the DUTY to observe every facet of civil behavior, everywhere. Need to make sure I have enough women in my company? Need to make sure I have doorknobs the right height for handicapped access? Someone used the "N" word you say?

Rather than being intelligent humans, who are expected to evaluate risk and make rational decisions based on that risk, we flee to the skirts of Mother Government. Some scary crazy dudes crashed some airplanes? Let's create a multibillion-dollar bureaucracy that will finger every crevice of 90-year old Norwegian grandmothers searching for explosives, but which dares not actually look twice at Muslim men in fear of lawsuits.

In fear for the children, we have moronic legislators working nights trying to figure out a way to regulate the Interwebz, instead of just expecting that parents pay attention to what their goddamn kids are doing, and what sorts of people they become, knowing that perverted and disgusting porn is out there, and really can't harm someone with a reasonable view of sexuality.

Also in fear for the children, we spend billions if not trillions chasing down trivial drug crimes (because they're the easiest to catch), and trying to stop the flow of drugs as if it's not an example of a nearly victimless crime. Can't we just let the potheads and crackfiends just destroy themselves and get it over with?

We claim we want a 'free' society, but then we demand to be protected from all risk. Essentially, the society that we have ASKED for, is the society that we are getting.

Hell, it's even in the financial market: instead of letting people get punished for making ignorant or greedy choices, we spend $1 trillion bailing out junk bond dealers and "rescuing" people whose mortgages left them underwater. Hey stupid, if someone says your $30,000 job can afford a $450,000 house, and you believe them? YOU DESERVE WHAT YOU GET. Further, we have a giant shell-game called social security that takes money from the workers to give to former-workers, so that nobody needs to save for themselves. As long as the pyramid holds up, we're great. We pay millions and billions to men who could be working but don't, to women who continue to drop litters despite abject poverty, and then millions more to incarcerate their permanently-damaged young. In this system, it's the people who work for a living every day, pay their taxes, and live within their means that are the idiots - we're stupid enough to continue paying these bailout taxes, and accepting a government that sees us as nothing more than a financial teat that they can continually pull for more money for 'the unfortunate' and 'the downtrodden'.

We've said "nanny state, please take care of everything for us!" - and empowered them to do so. Yet we're surprised that in turn the nanny state deploys its formidable resources to cover us with a stultifying blanket of surveillance and a Gulliverian web of laws.

Congrats. We're the idiots to blame.

Re:hey, this is what you all asked for, isn't it? (1)

Akratist (1080775) | more than 3 years ago | (#34981056)

I couldn't agree more with your post. The Left and the Right both consistently support bigger government -- the Left loves the welfare state, the Right loves the warfare state, and it's really just a matter of which of those two variables in the equation of government gets more emphasis.

Domestic Use of Aerial Drones By Law Enforcement (1)

Mattness (636060) | more than 3 years ago | (#34980914)

Domestic Use of Aerial Drones By Law Enforcement: Isn't this why god gave man wickedlasers.com [slashdot.org] ? Let the games begin.

I'm so relieved (1)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | more than 3 years ago | (#34981030)

Whew, I thought that droning noise was in my head. I'll have to look for other evidence that I'm going crazy, like those extra clicks on the phone when I pick it up.

Soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34981064)

Only a matter of time before these drones are used for traffic monitoring. Tickets will be mailed automatically and you will have no recourse.

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