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Domestic Surveillance Drones Could Spur Tougher Privacy Laws

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the looking-for-that-silver-lining dept.

Government 209

An anonymous reader writes "Have you ever been spied on by a surveillance drone? No? Are you sure? Maybe it looked like a hummingbird. Or an insect. Or maybe it was just really high up. Maybe there's one looking in your window right now, and if so, there's no law that says it shouldn't. In a recent article in the Stanford Law Review, Ryan Calo discusses how domestic surveillance drones would fit into the current legal definitions of privacy (and violations thereof), and how these issues could inform the future of privacy policy. The nutshell? Surveillance robots have the potential to fundamentally degrade privacy to such an extent that they could serve as a catalyst for reform."

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By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (5, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426082)

Only laws I would expect to be passed regarding such things is that it would be legal for them to be used on us, but illegal for us to use them. But perhaps I'm just a cynical bastard.

Re:By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (4, Interesting)

Synerg1y (2169962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426146)

That's the way it's been seeming, however, the 2nd article talks about something that is a little more constant, and that's the "tipping point". That's when the government is forced into reform by enough angry people that the officials cannot be elected again w/o reform. It's a shame it has to come to that though, and part of the issue is the government being so bogged down, the proper people may not even be aware that robots can be used in such a way, or that the local police has flying helicopter drones. There's a huge disconnect in the government when it comes to technology and they are not only trying to catch up in privacy, but in usability too. Just because they have helicopter drones doesn't mean they ever intended to spy on your average citizen, technology came before the laws, make sense? I think it's a bigger statement to the inefficiency of the government, and a lot less to malevolent intent. There's a lot better things to bash the government for, like SOPA.

Re:By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (5, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426454)

What is speaks to is that big government is FUNDAMENTALLY abusive. Once you have enough bureaucracy that the elected office don't know what is going on you lose accountability.
People are generally good, when they are accountable, when they think none are looking or nobody will ever know it was them the results are often tragic. You don't powerful mechanism to keep doing right either, no more threat than the disapproving stares of others is usually required. Government needs to be small enough, it terms of both dollars and head count that its always and immediately clear who the responsible parties are whenever a questionable activity happens.

Our modern representative democracy is really just a tyranny of bureaucracy. Virtually unaccountable, and above the law.

Re:By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (4, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426722)

People are generally good, when they are accountable, when they think none are looking or nobody will ever know it was them the results are often tragic.

I'm not sure that counts as "good". More like "people just don't want to get caught".

Re:By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426784)

That's a false dilemma. The observed effect is primarily caused by people that deliberately vote for politicians that work to undermine the government. You definitely can have big good government, but it requires that the voters reward politicians that act in their interest rather than punishing them.

Also, sunshine laws and bulletproofing the FOIA process would do wonders. For all the whining by the right about the evils of government, I don't see any particularly compelling evidence that corporations or the people in general are any more trust worthy.

REFORM WILL ONLY OCCUR (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426900)

Once the total, financial ruin of the US renders it functionally inoperable, and its laws unenforceable.

Re:By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (1)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426170)

And do not forget jamming devices, they will be banned if somthing new comes up to counter.

Re:By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (5, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426176)

perhaps I'm just a cynical bastard.

Well, the easiest way to show you are not would be to provide us with some sort of evidence that such laws have been passed before. Let me give you a hand with that:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/23/us/23cnceavesdropping.html?pagewanted=all [nytimes.com]

Re:By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426182)

There is nothing wrong with that unless, of course, you have reasons not to trust your government. But in that case the discussion is pointless anyway and you should be picking up your pitchfork.
After all, we all know that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

Re:By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426334)

unless, of course, you have reasons not to trust your government. But in that case the discussion is pointless anyway and you should be picking up your pitchfork.

So the moment you begin to distrust the goverment you need to skip straight to armed rebellion? You don't think there's an intermediary phase or two in there?

Re:By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426486)

There is nothing wrong with that unless, of course, you have reasons not to trust your government.

They're human beings, that about covers it.

Do tell me if you ever see a truly selfless one.

Re:By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (5, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426382)

Only in the United Stazis of America. Such surveillance, even by your neighbor, is illegal in other countries. For example, here in Kanuckistan, a guy was spying on his soon-to-be-ex. He was sitting in his car across the street from his house. The police asked him what he was doing, and he said "That's my house. I'm waiting to catch my wife cheating on me with my brother."

They told him it was illegal, even if it was his own house, since (1) he wasn't on his own property, and (2) he didn't have the consent of the people he was watching. They gave him a choice - move on or be arrested.

Even private detectives are no longer allowed to do surveillance against individuals on their own property any more in PoutineVille.

Re:By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (3, Insightful)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426922)

It's hard to tell which is crazier these days—the USA or everywhere else. Normally I'd say the USA, but then I hear about someone threatened with arrest for monitoring his own house... What possible expectation of privacy can there be for something which can be seen from a public street, inside someone else's house?

This whole "right to privacy" nonsense has gone too far. The right to privacy legitimately extends only so far as the right to keep things private. Once something becomes public, e.g. plainly visible from a public street, your desire for privacy no longer applies.

Re:By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426466)

...it would be legal for them to be used on us, but illegal for us to use them..

This isn't without precedent. Take the lawful use of force, deprivation of liberty... or life.

Of course, comparing surveillance to murder/execution is like apples and oranges. Just where does one draw the line?
In an ideal world we pay our representatives to decide these things fairly, but in practice, well...

Re:By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (2)

gila_monster (544999) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426890)

But perhaps I'm just a cynical bastard.

"The art of accurate observation is often called 'cynicism' by those who do not possess it." -- G B Shaw

Re:By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426906)

In other words, domestic surveillance drones could spur tougher privacy laws. But then again Sofia Veragaza could come over my house tonight to slob my knob.

The probability of these 2 events happening are about the same.

Re:By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (1)

dragonsomnolent (978815) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426996)

quick, someone call whoever that Sofia person is and get this AC a knobjob, it's our only hope

Re:By "reform" you mean legal for Gov' not for us. (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#38427030)

I'm Canadian, so I'm getting a kick. Our Privacy Commission would never allow this.

Also, you can buy helicopters with mounted cameras for $100 CDN at London Drugs.

FRIST Post (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426084)

Bill FRIST, of Tennessee! get it?!?

Sounds like FUD (2)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426096)

You still need a warrant if the surveillance is directed at an individual. And if it's just patrolling, how is that any different than a cop walking his beat?

Re:Sounds like FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426116)

You still need a warrant if the surveillance is directed at an individual. And if it's just patrolling, how is that any different than a cop walking his beat?

If it's not any different, why do they need to do it? Just use a beat cop.

The "it's exactly the same" argument can be applied both ways.

Re:Sounds like FUD (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426204)

If it's not any different, why do they need to do it? Just use a beat cop.

There are places that are public which are not easy to patrol or observe with stationary surveilance cameras. A small drone can be remotely operated and sent in to observe when a cop sees something suspicious to get more information before calling for backup and beating someone up.

However, in practice it'll just lead to more automatic traffic violation tickets being mailed to car owners to increase revenues to fund the new spy drones.

Re:Sounds like FUD (1)

dragonsomnolent (978815) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426384)

Yeah, like a backyard with a privacy fence!

Re:Sounds like FUD (2)

Amtrak (2430376) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426800)

The best counter-counter argument here is "But a beat cop costs 52k a year plus 10k in yearly benefits and a life time pension, our drone has a one time cost of 100k plus a 10k operating budget with a 5 year operating life cycle and one beat cop can operate 4 of these drones. That means that if we hire four beat cops for 25 years at cost 4x62k = 248k/yr for 25 years for 248k x 25 = 6.2 Mil assuming no raises and rolled in medical costs. And then half pay for the rest of the life of the police officers under there public pension for at least another 3.1 Mil assuming they all started at 25 retired at 50 and lived to 75. For a grand total of 9.3 Million. Then take the 4 drones, First Year 400k and another 400k every 5 years after. for 400k x 5 = 2 Mil plus 10k x 4 x 25 = 1 Mil operation budget for 25 years. For a total of 3 Mil plus one beat cop at 2.325 Million for a grand total of 5.325 Million total cost for 25 years. So since 9.3 Million > 5.325 Million the drones are cheaper and will save our poor cash strapped city money." And all the brain dead voters out their will go LESS MONEY and WE ARE SAFER! VOTE YES NOW!!! Then again the city will hire the 4 cops anyway, increase there pensions and pay and find out that they grossly underestimated the drone budget and then ask for a bail out or raise taxes but you know that's how the government works. Why do I live here again?

Re:Sounds like FUD (1)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426134)

How different? The Eagle eye.

Anyway, i'm just waiting for the peeping tom condor edition, best suited for milfs on an amazon review.

Need a warrant (2)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426164)

It's nice to talk about laws protecting us from the government, but in truth the only thing holding them back is fear of us.

Re:Sounds like FUD (3, Informative)

Restavon1 (765808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426186)

A police officer on patrol cannot film whats happening in your back yard or keep photographic records of your activities.

Re:Sounds like FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426210)

cops don't fly two miles overhead for 36 hours without a break

cops don't have telescopic video-recording eyes that can see fine detail at two miles

cops don't have thermal vision

so ya it is 'just like a cop' if that cop is a flying version of robocop

Re:Sounds like FUD (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426792)

cops don't fly two miles overhead for 36 hours without a break

cops don't have telescopic video-recording eyes that can see fine detail at two miles

cops don't have thermal vision

so ya it is 'just like a cop' if that cop is a flying version of robocop

Makes me wonder why no one ever sued Superman for privacy violation.

Re:Sounds like FUD (5, Interesting)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426250)

I believe the approach authoritarians use to justify new surveillance powers is to split hairs about the applicability of existing law. They make sophist arguments such as: wiretapping laws were written for switched-telephone lines and don't apply to packet-switched VoIP; the Fourth Amendment protects citizens' "papers" but electronic data such as e-mail are not "papers." So I think there is reason to be concerned that a court may rule surveillance drones are not constrained by existing statues.

Re:Sounds like FUD (3, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426268)

And if it's just patrolling, how is that any different than a cop walking his beat?

Do cops frequently flap their wings and fly through the air when they are out on patrol? This is yet another increase in the power of the police, at a time when the United States imprisons more people than any country in the entire world. This is not a question of FUD, it is a matter of whether or not giving the police even more power is a wise thing to do right now; those of us who still desperately cling to the idea that we have rights would say that no, this is not a good time for the police to be getting more power.

Re:Sounds like FUD (3, Informative)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426328)

You still need a warrant if the surveillance is directed at an individual. And if it's just patrolling, how is that any different than a cop walking his beat?

Beat Cop: $25 - $50K to build(training), $50 - $75K per year to operate.

Predator Drone: $15 million to build, $50 - $75K per day to operate.

Dunno about you, but as a taxpayer, I see a "slight" difference here...

Re:Sounds like FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426540)

That's a very weak argument, as the drone can do the work of a great many cops and can do so 24/7, and the cost of building/operating them at the individual level would certainly fall quickly once they were geared up to deploy on the kind of scale we're talking about.

Re:Sounds like FUD (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426704)

If it truly costs $50 - $75K per day to operate, somebody's making a really fat margin. I suggest that all beat cops bone up on their RC skills and become independent contractors.

Re:Sounds like FUD (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426744)

But. Drugs. And Children!

Budget Passed.

Re:Sounds like FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38427060)

As taxpayer I don't see a need at all, which is even cheaper.

Re:Sounds like FUD (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426366)

You still need a warrant if the surveillance is directed at an individual. And if it's just patrolling, how is that any different than a cop walking his beat?

Surveillance technologies bring two main changes to the table, even when otherwise analogous to some prior method:

1. Economics: There is no legal problem with having cops walking 100% of the legally public beats 100% of the time. Economically, though, there just aren't enough cops to do that. In practice, one of the major protections from the state historically enjoyed by most people is not law; but simple lack of resources. It may be legal to have a cop follow you on a public road, and determine your route; but that cop isn't cheap, so you'll have to attract some suspicion first. Slapping a $100, reusable, magnetic GPS bug on your car, on the other hand, is overwhelmingly cheaper than having a $50,000/yr cop following you. Even if the two are analogous, the level of protection enjoyed in one case is far lower than in the other.

2. Retention: Humans, by necessity, have lousy memories. Our eyes just slide right over mundane happenings and they fall away almost immediately. Storage of electronic surveillance data, on the other hand, is cheap and getting cheaper(and easier to automatically search). Trying to track the routes of all motorists in a city based on data from the beat cops would be essentially impossible. Doing the same from an equivalent number of license-plate cameras? Hard; but tractable.

The crux of the matter is that, as cost decreases and retention increases, 'just patrolling' and 'surveillance directed at an individual' stop being distinct categories: the agents that are 'just patrolling' gather and retain enough data that (proactively or retroactively) turning that patrol into surveillance is essentially just a matter of doing the DB lookup. We haven't reached that point yet; but basically any advance in the cost or capability of automated surveillance technology moves us closer. Patrolling and targeted surveillance aren't fundamentally different, they are different because human agents are really bad at patrolling, and have to be given quite different orders if you want them to get useful data on a specific target. If an agent is good at patrolling, all people that pass within its view are effectively surveilled...

Re:Sounds like FUD (3, Interesting)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426698)

There is no legal problem with having cops walking 100% of the legally public beats 100% of the time. Economically, though, there just aren't enough cops to do that. In practice, one of the major protections from the state historically enjoyed by most people is not law; but simple lack of resources.

Yes, but many, if not most Americans don't seem to know or care why you don't want 100% police coverage. There are two problems they don't realize. 1) Most people break a law or two every waking hour. 2) With any test, there will be a false positive rate.

What if each and every time you went 56 mph in a 55 you got a ticket? Did you share your wife's prescription allegra because yours ran out? Is it even possible for any citizen to even know every law that might apply to them?

Re:Sounds like FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426926)

We haven't reached that point yet

Are you sure? I seem to remember recent stories about cops having cameras external attached to software running on their in-car laptop that tracked and looked up every license plate the cop casually came across. I also remember an article about an image recognition system that used two cameras to trace the speed and identity of every license plate that came into view as they passed a point on a highway.

I'm a little concerned we're at that point already. Consider that if we were, those in control wouldn't make it very obvious.

Re:Sounds like FUD (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426506)

You still need a warrant if the surveillance is directed at an individual. And if it's just patrolling, how is that any different than a cop walking his beat?

Given the technology invovled my guess it would be functionally about the same as a cop on every street corner 24x7. Now thats what I call a police state.

Re:Sounds like FUD (2)

finnw (415539) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426636)

Given the technology invovled my guess it would be functionally about the same as a cop on every street corner 24x7. Now thats what I call a police state.

Police state doesn't mean "lots of cops", it means "unaccountable cops."

Re:Sounds like FUD (2)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426528)

You're assuming an executive branch that respects the authority of the judicial branch. Considering that a leading presidential candidate [thinkprogress.org] has been talking about having judges arrested for rulings that defy his positions, I wouldn't count on that.

Re:Sounds like FUD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38427132)

Read the fucking Patriot Act and let's see if you still think that way.

Frog metaphor (5, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426098)

More likely the frog-in-boiling-water metaphor will apply, as the gradual decline in privacy (up to the present and going forward) prevents most people from noticing just how hot things are getting.

Re:Frog metaphor (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426360)

The frog-in-boiling-water myth.

Re:Frog metaphor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426458)

another aspie who doesn't grasp the point of a metaphor

Re:Lobster metaphor (2)

finnw (415539) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426678)

Just replace "frog" with "lobster" - that way it is accurate and everyone's happy.

Or Maybe You Could Force It To Land (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426102)

If Iran's military can neutralize this threat, I'm sure our more curious engineering student could do so as well.

Re:Or Maybe You Could Force It To Land (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426298)

If it's a bird, or a frog, or some other small animal: Smashy smashy with a rock!

Re:Or Maybe You Could Force It To Land (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426386)

I'm guessing that the Revolutionary Guard doesn't have to worry about the FCC or obstruction of justice charges...

just like facebook! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426168)

TFS: "...could serve as a catalyst for reform"

Yeah! It'll be just like how the gross privacy violations of Facebook served as a catalyst for reform as people everywhere started to value their privacy and turned away from the service en-mass as they realized the extent to which their every move was being logged, data mined, and sold.

Oh, wait... people don't give a shit about their own privacy, do they?

Cigarette and a blindfold (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426178)

Any government official, politician, etc promoting and/or using such nonsense without a real warrant process should be offered one of each.

The message gets lost in that summary (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426184)

Have you ever been spied on by a surveillance drone? No? Are you sure? Maybe it looked like a hummingbird. Or an insect. Or maybe it was just really high up.

Okay, seriously, maybe this IS a serious issue, and maybe it's more important than just more bullshit analogies involving frogs and boiling water. Maybe.

But if it IS that important, could you maybe try leading off with something that WON'T be guaranteed to be ignored as textbook tinfoil hat rambling? Or has Slashdot really sunk so far as to be a blatantly obvious echo chamber for the paranoids and TRUST NOBODY ZOMG crowd?

Re:The message gets lost in that summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426278)

Have you ever been spied on by a surveillance drone? No? Are you sure? Maybe it looked like a hummingbird. Or an insect. Or maybe it was just really high up.

Okay, seriously, maybe this IS a serious issue, and maybe it's more important than just more bullshit analogies involving frogs and boiling water. Maybe.

But if it IS that important, could you maybe try leading off with something that WON'T be guaranteed to be ignored as textbook tinfoil hat rambling? Or has Slashdot really sunk so far as to be a blatantly obvious echo chamber for the paranoids and TRUST NOBODY ZOMG crowd?

Awnser: Yes, that is why you posted as an AC.

Re:The message gets lost in that summary (2)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426356)

Actually if you recognize the converging trends of a police-state mentality, a major political party increasingly dominated by religious fundamentalists, the unprecedented technology to enable surveillance, and the recent extra-judicial assassination of U.S citizens on foreign soil, you might start to think "TRUST NOBODY ZOMG" is an appropriate response.

didn't notice? (3, Informative)

psin psycle (118560) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426214)

In these parts, just before harvest, they fly around with army helicopters and peak in our windows looking for pot plants. The whole freaking house shakes!

Re:didn't notice? (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426330)

Well, now you can rest assured that people who have feral hemp on their land will be arrested and imprisoned without your house shaking in the process! Be glad, citizen, that the loss of your rights no longer has to be shoved in your face!

Re:didn't notice? (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426978)

Posting to fix a bad mod.

More gov't abuse (4, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426222)

More government abuse.

There is something absolutely wrong with the people, when they allow the government workers any more entitlements and rights than the citizens have. Since when is it OK for a private individual to stalk another private individual in their own house, setting up bugs and cameras and recording devices, etc?

Realize this: if it's not OK for a private individual, then it's not OK for a government either. Government is just a bunch of individuals that have been given enormous amounts of power over other individuals.

If you don't see a problem with some individuals having huge amounts of power over other individuals, then you have no imagination.

Re:More gov't abuse (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426300)

If you don't see a problem with some individuals having huge amounts of power over other individuals, then you have no imagination.

Or you're hoping to set yourself up as a quisling, like many members of the party I used to be a member of.

Re:More gov't abuse (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426810)

The US government, has been self-assembling and self-defining ever since the original construction documents were approved. (The Constitution)

Despite that document describing that certain rights were to be retained by the people in clear language, the government has been constricting and restricting what those rights mean. By changing the meaning of the words, they can change the document w/o any additional discussion.

Let them watch me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426244)

Maybe there's one looking in your window right now, and if so, there's no law that says it shouldn't.

Good. I just rubbed out a fierce one in front of the window to give them a show.

Not so clear cut (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426312)

I'm confused. As far as I am aware, this can be a state-by-state issue. In Maryland, you cannot shoot video where there is "a presumed sense of privacy". I think a camera peering into a person's house would certainly qualify. This issue has come up before in this state, too.

On the other hand, if you want complete privacy, conduct your private acts in a sealed soundproof room. :P

Re:Not so clear cut (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426492)

Of which the purchasing of the components for will end you up on a dozen government watch lists.

Re:Not so clear cut (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426554)

Purchasing soundproofing materials puts you on a watch list? Really? I'd love to see evidence of that. Meanwhile, head down to any music store, make said purchase with cash, and see how many government agents and black helicopters they send. Gimme a break.

Re:Not so clear cut (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426936)

On the other hand, if you want complete privacy, conduct your private acts in a sealed soundproof room. :P

Unfortunately, if you have a room sealed to visible light and sound egress, you've still got other factors, such as ventilation ducts (unless you bring your own air supply), EM radiation outside the visible spectrum, power supply variation, etc.

Right now, it's really easy to say "Some people walked into that sealed room and have been in there for 2 hours. My scanner indicates that there are now 2 cell phones registered to X and Y that made their way to that room from locations A and B, and one WiFi client currently broadcasting SSID ABC and transmitting this data stream over "secure" WPA2. Of course, the laptop also has a RAT installed, and we've been able to turn on the video camera and microphone; here's the feed...."

Afghanistan and Iraq Testing Grounds. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426318)

As of late, I have been feeling as though Afghanistan and Iraq where really just proving grounds for our new Drone Overlords. The wars more meant as a way to test using drones against a civilian population without people at home realizing it. I also don't see Drones as the future of combat more then against non-technologically developed countries. Counter Drone tech is already proven in Iran. It will take a bit of time to develop but I think even North Korea is going to be taking down any errant drones. Plus, you can shoot them down if worst comes to to worst because nobody dies.

The only good thing about drones is that we could use them to provide cheap internet service.

Moxie Says Dogfight (3, Interesting)

loteck (533317) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426342)

In his interview, Moxie suggested building your own flying device [slashdot.org] to "engage" theirs. As far as aerial engagement goes, I can only interpret that to mean he suggests we take the fight to the air.

Re:Moxie Says Dogfight (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426392)

Congrats, you just advocated the destruction of police property. I suspect that anyone who shoots down or otherwise disables one of these drones will be arrested and imprisoned. Even if you just build a fancy laser system that tracks that drone and tries to overwhelm its camera with laser light, you will probably be convicted of a felony.

Re:Moxie Says Dogfight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426550)

Part two:
The potential for injury if a malfunctioning drone plummets to the earth and inflicts personal injury ...or in a true dogfight, results in explosive burning shrapnel fallout in residential areas, possibly setting fire to homes.

I think the legalese is something like "acting with depraved indifference".

Juries on the other hand, tend to "act with depraved ambivalence".

It's a fun idea, until someone gets hurt, and your standing before a jury of laymen, who are pissed off about jury duty, and don't really care about the intellectual nuances of a case.

Re:Moxie Says Dogfight (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426942)

Ooh! Are we going to take Robot Wars out of the arena and into the air? Will we have RC copters with cattle prods, tasers and buzz saws falling out of the sky?

Sure... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426348)

Yep, I've been spied on before by these things except in my experience, they resembled a 5 year-old younger brother...

Changing technology demands changing legal theory. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426374)

Let's say there's a legal theory that says that anything you do in a public place, defined as anywhere outside closed doors, is something others can record.

The practical outcome of this legal theory is that 1) police can cruise down the streets and look for troublemakers, 2) if someone is really really interested and wants to take the time to do so they can film you, subject to laws against stalking and harassment.

Let's say that technology appears that makes miniature recording robots extremely cheap, reliable and energy efficient.

The practical outcome changes to be that every second spent outside and word you speak is recorded, voice recognised and entered into a database.

If you want the same practical outcome as before, you need to change the legal theory. If you keep the legal theory the same, the practical outcome will be different.

Similar to the right to bear arms. If the legal theory is that you should be able to carry what the government carries, the practical outcome used to be that someone who went postal with a musket might injure or kill one or two people. When the legal theory remains, the practical reality changes. This is solely driven by technology.

Douchenozzle USA (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426394)

Allows law enforcement to record citizens but beats citizens for recording them.

4th Amendment ... (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426402)

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

I'm sure people will come up with all of the ways in which the 4th Amendment couldn't possibly apply here (ZOMG, you're out of your house, how could you possibly expect privacy), but really I've always assumed that this is exactly where it should be applied.

This whole "oh well, this technology bypasses the strict wording of that" is just moving the goalposts to sat that if it wasn't specifically prohibited, it must be OK.

No warrant, no probably cause ... no dragnet and broad automated surveillance. The US isn't supposed to allow domestic spying without probable cause and judicial oversight. This record everybody and figure it out later is pretty much the opposite of a free society.

Sadly, terrorism, protecting the children, and copyright all seem to more or less allow one to circumvent these things.

Re:4th Amendment ... (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426908)

Imperfect Laws vs. Imperfect Enforcement. That's been the balance we've always had. Now, there's the possibility that we will have the same imperfect laws, but with near perfect enforcement. Eventually we're all convicts.

Dear Drones: +5, Sincerely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426428)

Good Bye! [youtube.com]

Cheers!

hmmm.... (3, Funny)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426446)

How far above my property do I own? Because, as of right now, any "Flying machinery" within reach of my 12 gauge is fair game imo. I suspect DIY auto-turrents for under $100 will become more common additions to rooftops as well.

Re:hmmm.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426586)

mod parent up!

Re:hmmm.... (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426676)

Not sure where you live, but a lot of places have laws about not discharging weapons within city limits, etc. And I suspect that they will fly at sufficient altitude to not be shot at easily.

Re:hmmm.... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426712)

You cant fire a gun inside city limits unless its at an intruder... So I'd say a surveillance drone would count as an intruder.

Re:hmmm.... (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38427072)

I wish that were true: the holocaust of fucking squirrels infesting my property would begin! But in practice only police have a strong right to self-defense.

Re:hmmm.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426694)

I truly hope you don't live near an airport. In all seriousness though, maybe a nice short range EMP. I have to assume these things would be required to fly significantly lower than passenger aircraft.

The answer to the no-privacy bigots. (5, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426468)

Here is my answer to the inevitable "it's public, and you have no expectation of privacy."

Suppose that the mayor or governor where you live doesn't like you, and arranged so that whenever you left your house, there was a squad car (or foot patrol) waiting on the street, and they followed you where-ever you went. If you go in a store, they're just down the aisle. If you go to church, they sit in the next pew. If you go to a bar, they are there a few feet away. At no time do they invade your house, or touch you, but they are always there, watching and listening.

You have just described the life of a dissident in Eastern Europe, circa 1975-1985. If you think this is OK, or normal, or part of a civilized society, you are crazy.

If you think that it is OK to do all of this with machinery instead of people, you are also crazy. It's no different if it is a goon or a robotic gnat.

Re:The answer to the no-privacy bigots. (3, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426638)

It is different, Its worse, eventually you will notice the goon. It might escape your attention for years that a small GPS tracker disguised to look like a fuel filter or something else the ought to be there has been attached to the underside of your car.

Re:The answer to the no-privacy bigots. (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426748)

The good thing is, the way the roads are in my city, that GPS will probably get clobbered by one of the potholes I hit.

Re:The answer to the no-privacy bigots. (1)

Nethead (1563) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426938)

But wouldn't I notice the red flashing LED and the beeping? All the ones I've seen on TV have that.

Re:The answer to the no-privacy bigots. (2)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#38427106)

Let me tell you about the flashing LED, because it's stupid. Obviously, Hollywood put the blinking on because it makes good TV.

I used to work for a company that made GPS tracking collars for animals. The GPS would be recorded and sent out via VHF to a receiver up to about 20km away. (12 miles)

The VHF transmitter on those collars used a voltage regulator to make sure that the signal is the right strength. Those regulators were $1.60 each. By staggering coincidence, a red LED provided the same voltage regulation for $0.22. It also had the side benefit of letting us know when the VHF section was transmitting because it would light up.

We went with the "let's save $1.38 p.u. + get a troubleshooting light" option, so there are in fact real-life tracking transmitters that have a blinking light.

Actually, you described FBI COINTELPRO, 1950-70 (1)

swb (14022) | more than 2 years ago | (#38427010)

They used to do this for quite a few targets of interest -- CPUSA, black militants, labor organizers, KKK members.

Except they went further -- bugs, phone taps, mail interception.

All in the name of freedom.

Privacy or lack thereof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426568)

I love big brother...

Re:Privacy or lack thereof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426834)

BANG!

What's all the hubbub? (1)

fortapocalypse (1231686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426706)

A hummingbird or an insect? A pellet gun and a fly swatter should do just nicely.

Misleading article summary comment (again) (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426710)

Maybe there's one looking in your window right now, and if so, there's no law that says it shouldn't.

No? How about the laws used to restrain peeping toms? The placement of surveillance cameras by unauthorized personelle in places like bathrooms has been upheld as a privacy violation in many nations, and is illegal.

Or the (victorious!) claims against Google's street view "surveillance" of homes that violated their right to privacy by mounting their cameras higher than "normal" pedestrian or vehicle traffic views the street from?

Just because the US FBI likes to place GPS trackers on people without warrants doesn't mean that behaviour has been found legal, either.

Why do so many privacy advocates go around screaming like Chicken Little about the falling sky of government intrusion and oppression, instead of creatively explaining how current law can be used to leash the hounds!

The Paparazzi will save us! (2)

mounthood (993037) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426752)

The Paparazzi will save us by abusing this in every way possible. The rich and famous have no choice but to tell the politicians to change the laws.

Re:The Paparazzi will save us! (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38426798)

The laws will be changed so that only the police are allowed to fly surveillance drones, which will be defined so broadly that every model aircraft enthusiast will be committing a felony.

Re:The Paparazzi will save us! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426872)

Could be, but a paparazzo who pisses off a sponsor or an owner of the magazines he works for, won't be around for long.

problem: people don't care about privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426836)

All the evidence points to the fact that the majority of people don't care about privacy. They willingly give it up at every opportunity for illusions of security or for bread and faceb...err, circuses.

Remember when they said these would never be used? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38426856)

Yeah anyone remember when they promised they would *never* use drones on Americans?

You remember that? When we all flipped out years ago and they said this technology was only for the battlefield and would *never* be used domestically?

Yeah no one else remembers either. They WERE build to spy upon us and us tin-foil-hat wearers WERE RIGHT when said this would be used to spy on Americans.

Enjoy your spies in the skies.... fucking retards.

drone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38427112)

They can spy on you but you cant take a picture of them without threats and arrest.
Police state sounding to me.

"a catalyst for reform" (0)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38427172)

Good luck with that.

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