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Domestic Surveillance Drones On the Rise

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the eye-in-the-sky dept.

Privacy 96

Toe, The writes "Predator drones have now racked up over 10,000 hours of airtime in the U.S., largely for immigration enforcement. Homeland Security reports that drone operations lead to the apprehension of 4,865 undocumented immigrants and 238 drug smugglers in the past six years. Compare that to 327,577 illegal migrants caught at the southwest border in fiscal 2011. The only limits on their surveillance are FAA regulations keeping them away from crowded urban areas, and this is for safety reasons, not privacy. While the drones cannot see through windows, they certainly see a lot of what goes on in the (former) privacy of peoples' yards. The article cites Michael Kostelnik from the Office of Air and Marine for the Border Protection service saying he's never been challenged in Congress about the appropriate use of domestic drones. 'Instead the question is: Why can't we have more of them in my district?'"

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Consider It (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453098)

Ok think about this and see if you can have a real answer not just handwaving...

Races other than blacks have been enslaved in the past, discriminated against, denied civil rights, mistreated, hated, and oppressed. But blacks as a group have the highest rates of anything like rates of violent crime (proportional), drug abuse, spousal abuse, children born out of wedlock, illiteracy, alcoholism, obesity (especially their women) and theft and simultaneously the lowest rates of high school graduation, home ownership, scientific achievements, business ownership and college degrees.

Like I said other races have faced terrible racism. Think of the Jews just to name a recent one. But the Jews do much better for themselves than the blacks and their worst persecution was much more recent than US black slavery. Unlike the blacks there's Jews alive today who remember the Holocaust. As a group, the Jews consistently beat the blacks on any of the metrics I wrote above. So do the whites. So do Asians.

The whole "oh noes its not their fault it's because of RACISM" really starts wearing thin. Maybe that (barely) explains one or two of the metrics above. It does not explain all of them. It does not explain why others who also faced racism do so much better, why they're more civilized and successful. It is a true valid comparison of apples and apples.

So WTF is wrong with black people? I mean if somebody does believe they are genetically inferior (true racism) they have a lot of justifications for feeling that way. It's not like they just woke up one day and said "hey I'm going to try something new, I am going to start hating black people!". No, they get the idea from seeing how most black people are and wondering if they're going to get mugged by some gang member for accidentally making eye contact.

I don't think it's genetics I think it's their anti-achievement culture. Any black person in the ghetto who wants to get out of the ghetto by bettering himself is harassed, intimidated, beaten up for "acting white". They keep themselves down. It's no one's fault but their own. It's as simple as that.

I'm tired of everyone acting like it's some big deal to say this. I'm not harming black people in any way. To hate me for having an informed opinion is another stupid taboo the same way a woman showing her ankles was once a great big risque deal. I'm tired of being expected to feel sorry and guilty and to kiss their ass. If they want me to do that, they should try wiping it once in a while. They can do that by telling those race-dividing clowns Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to shut the hell up because they don't represent all of them, stop playing the victim every time any part of their life doesn't go their way and grow up and start taking some positive action about their own situation.

Until they can do that it's only fair not to consider them equals. All men are born equal but a lot of them seem damned determined to take themselves down a peg or two.

Re:Consider It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455566)

tl;dr lol

You know, for terrorists and such (5, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453148)

Every time I see one of these domestic drone stories, I'm reminded of that scene in Blue Thunder [wikipedia.org] where Roy Scheider, having seen a demonstration of the deadly helicopter, says something along the lines of "You don't expect to use that thing for law enforcement, do you?" to his government minder. The guy just looks creepily at him and replies "Well, that would depend on the CIRCUMSTANCES, wouldn't it?"

Re:You know, for terrorists and such (1)

sd4f (1891894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453312)

What about Babylon AD, where as they are trying to enter the USA, unmanned drones start attacking them!

Re:You know, for terrorists and such (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453346)

Every time I see one of these domestic drone stories, I'm reminded of that scene in Blue Thunder [wikipedia.org] where Roy Scheider, having seen a demonstration of the deadly helicopter, says something along the lines of "You don't expect to use that thing for law enforcement, do you?" to his government minder. The guy just looks creepily at him and replies "Well, that would depend on the CIRCUMSTANCES, wouldn't it?"

No problem. I'll just go around, hiding under a cardboard box. I have a feeling there will be a lot of us doing this.

Video games: You can learn a lot from them!

Re:You know, for terrorists and such (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453380)

Even better: just put a basket on the drone.

Re:You know, for terrorists and such (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455078)

throw a towel over it

Re:You know, for terrorists and such (1)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455630)

Oh. It's just a box!

Unintended Consequences (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453186)

I'm worried with all this effective border patrolling it suddenly makes more sense to have domestic drug production. And as a result all that violence assoicated with the drug trade that Mexico is experiencing springs up here.

Maybe we deserve it more than they do. It's our demand after all.

Re:Unintended Consequences (5, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453394)

It actually makes a lot more sense to produce drugs locally, except we could also legalize it and completely eliminate the violent crime aspect.

Re:Unintended Consequences (4, Informative)

jc79 (1683494) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453622)

Steady on, that sounds suspiciously like common sense. If you start applying that to narcotics control, who knows what might happen?

http://www.tdpf.org.uk/blueprint%20download.htm [tdpf.org.uk]

Re:Unintended Consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453742)

This.

The US proved a long time ago that prohibition does not work. I'm not sure I advocate just legalizing everything over night, some regulation is needed. Regulate, Tax, Educate.

Re:Unintended Consequences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453948)

Yes, and electronics. It makes a ton of sense to produce electronics locally, you just need to legalize it. Wait...

Re:Unintended Consequences (3, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454084)

Yes and the chip foundries engage in bloody turf wars over who get to supply Apple with the next batch of A5 chips.

You are completely missing the point. Legalizing drugs isn't to get production local. It is to neuter the criminal organizations that currently control drug production and distribution.

Re:Unintended Consequences (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454332)

Similar to how the mafia disbanded after the end of Prohibition.Wait a minute, that didn't happen.

Re:Unintended Consequences (4, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454698)

Many of them did.

Many of them lost the majority of their income and power (at least until they could expand into drug distribution).

And a very few of them realized that they could still profit by playing inside the law and dropped their other criminal activities.

In any case it dramatically reduced their power and influence.

Re:Unintended Consequences (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457320)

"And a very few of them realized that they could still profit by playing inside the law and dropped their other criminal activities." For example the Kennedy family, who went into politics...

Re:Unintended Consequences (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455346)

I'm guessing big pharmacological industries are against that, because they will lose space with several other well established countries as producers. The moment the US has a strategic advantage I see they will make it legal, otherwise, may the Colombians and Mexicans die in that senseless drug war funded by the US.

Re:Unintended Consequences (1)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453540)

I'm worried with all this effective border patrolling it suddenly makes more sense to have domestic drug production.

Domestic Job Creation Plan...

Led (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453214)

The past tense of the verb "to lead" is led. "...drone operations lead to the apprehension of 4,865 undocumented immigrants and 238 drug smugglers in the past six years."

Yes, language evolves and someday "lead" may be acceptable usage. In the meantime, it's a mistake. Correct yourself. Thanks for your cooperation.

Re:Led (3, Insightful)

Kadagan AU (638260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453324)

While we're correcting them, they're not "undocumented immigrants", they're illegal immigrants.

Re:Led (3, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453988)

Perhaps, perhaps not.

1. There may well be people who have US citizenship (and therefore be entirely legal) who have no documentation to prove it (and thus be undocumented). I'm not going to pretend that this would be a large number, but if there is even one such person then they are an undocumented immigrant not an illegal immigrant. This would include US legitimate tourists who have been robbed, people born out of the country with at least one legitimate US parent, etc. The former can apply to the consulate, but that assumes they're rational. Rational people are an endangered species. The latter may or may not have access to the consulate, even if theory says they should have.

2. In the US (not sure about your country), a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Well, that's the theory, at least. Legal doctrine therefore states these people -cannot- be "illegal immigrants" until proven such. In part, this is due to (1), but it's also because you don't want some mad Arizonian sheriff arresting anyone who "looks funny" and deporting them without lawful right to do so. And, no, saying someone "looks funny" is not a lawful right.

3. Once a person is at a detention centre, there is NO evidence of where they were arrested. There are corrupt police - hopefully not many, but it's definitely non-zero. It would not take much to take a lawful US citizen from within the US and make it appear like they're illegally there, especially if said citizen has no documentation on them (ie: they're undocumented). It's entirely plausible for police to eliminate homelessness by dumping the homeless over the border, and for hospitals to eliminate mental illness the same way. (You've seen the stories on hospitals dumping patients in skid row.) These would not be illegals, these would be undocumenteds.

I cannot tell from a police report or a media photo whether the person was legally entitled to be in the US. Nor can you. Nor can anyone. That is why we have courts. Judge without knowledge at your peril, because it is inevitable that when a society converts a potential for a crime into a crime in itself, you WILL be judged without knowledge yourself. And that's a path that goes downhill FAST.

(Most of those who are passionate about convicting without prosecuting would do well to remember that the road to hell is paved with "good intentions" -- not intentions that are actually good, merely intentions you can fool yourselves into believing are good.)

Re:Led (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454358)

Holy shit, that was autistic.

Judge without knowledge at your peril,

Yes, we know that. Shut the fuck up with your fake guru bullshit. You're not the wise man you think you are spouting commonly understood things.

Re:Led (1, Flamebait)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454398)

Common sense is remarkably uncommon, but I guess you knew that as well. Pi is round, not square. And if I thought I was a guru, I'd be charging a hell of a lot more for my time. Spout off BS and I'll call you on your BS. If you don't want me calling you on it, don't spout it. It's very easy. You might even be able to achieve something like that.

Re:Led (3, Interesting)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454982)

1. There may well be people who have US citizenship (and therefore be entirely legal) who have no documentation to prove it (and thus be undocumented).

I think you are deliberately misinterpreting the difference between "undocumented" and "illegal alien".

The illegal alien is not illegal because he has no documents. He is illegal because he entered the country illegally to start with, or has remained in the country in violation of his visa or other entry permit. Many people have no documents. They are not "illegal aliens" because of that.

In the US (not sure about your country), a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Well, that's the theory, at least.

That is the presumption that the government is supposed to make in a criminal case. That is NOT a presumption of fact. I.e., if someone steals a car from me, he is a criminal, period, end of sentence (no pun intended). He became a criminal and assumed guilt when he committed the crime. The government will require proof of such, and is supposed to treat him as innocent until proven guilty with regards to punishment, but I need no such proof before I do. You could try to argue with a casino or retail establishment, but they can tresspass someone for shoplifting or other crime committed on their premises without a court ajudicating the matter.

The idea that someone IS innocent until proven guilty is a logical fallacy. How he must be treated by the judicial system and what he actually is are two very different things.

And, no, saying someone "looks funny" is not a lawful right.

The AZ law regarding illegal aliens had nothing to do with deporting people because they "looked funny". Looking funny was not sufficient grounds.

I cannot tell from a police report or a media photo whether the person was legally entitled to be in the US. Nor can you. Nor can anyone.

Actually, you can tell quite a lot from a police report. "Subject was observed crossing the border into the US at MIddle of Nowhere, Texas." Taking the subject to the nearest border crossing facility and allowing him to either gain legal entry or remain in Mexico is quite reasonable.

Most of those who are passionate about convicting without prosecuting would do well to remember that the road to hell is paved with "good intentions"

Now if only those who favor ignoring federal law in their attempts at fuzzy warm feel good would remember that.

Re:Led (2)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455390)

To your example of someone stealing a car, I'd point out that yes the person who *stole* it may be guilty, but mistaken identity happens all the time and that means that you cannot go by one person's word alone that the person labelled as the thief is indeed the thief. There are all kinds of cases where vigilantes have attacked the wrong person for this very reason. Those vigilantes aren't part of the judicial system, so should they presume innocence? Yes. Obviously. Why obviously? Because the scientific method only works if you are trying to falsify things, it doesn't work if you are trying to prove things. (See Sherlock Holmes as to why this is important in criminal matters - he may be fictional, but he's a better role-model than Joe Thug.) If you start by assuming the person you think is guilty is, in fact, innocent then you can apply rigorous methods to falsify that hypothesis. Rigour is what matters.

To your example of AZ law, the Feds are investigating the sheriff in question (and seem on the verge of numerous indictments) because said sheriff DID regard that as sufficient grounds.

No, the police report only says what the police report says. Anyone can type out a document. Doesn't make the document true. Those of us from Britain are familiar with the Guildford 6 and the Birmingham 4, cases where false reports were made and falsified confessions (complete with forged signatures) were provided. We know that if these things could happen, they can happen and eventually will happen. You MUST therefore not accept any police report as being Absolute Truth, you must only accept it as being evidence offered that is no different from any other evidence, given no more or less weight, and scrutinized accordingly.

My own belief is that NO law, Federal or State, should be ignored, that ALL should be equal before the law, and that ALL evidence should be weighed and analyzed to the greatest practical* extent. Adversarial systems are something we're probably stuck with, and they serve a purpose, but monocultures are always defective and the current adversarial system in the US is definitely in the defective category.

*It would be nice if DNA evidence was analyzed by doing genomic decodes. Nice, but not practical. Maybe in 50 years. Perhaps. There will always be greater scrutiny technically possible, but you've got to draw some line or it gets absurd. In the case of DNA evidence, comparison of 8 markers isn't even remotely good enough - most labs wouldn't even break into a sweat if you upped the minimum to somewhere around 15-20. It would eliminate the false positives we're now seeing at no significant overhead in cost or time. That's an example of a practical threshold.

Re:Led (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455800)

To your example of someone stealing a car, I'd point out that yes the person who *stole* it may be guilty, but mistaken identity happens all the time and that means that you cannot go by one person's word alone that the person labelled as the thief is indeed the thief.

You missed the point completely. The person who stole the car is a thief the moment they stole the car. There is no "innocent until proven guilty". What they are is not the same as a presumption that the government is supposed to make regarding their legal status.

The "illegal alien" is illegal the moment he entered the country illegally. He is illegal not because he has no documents, he is illegal because he broke the law. Calling him "undocumented" is incorrect. Telling me he IS "innocent until proven guilty" is just as incorrect. You can say "the courts must treat him as IF ...".

No, the police report only says what the police report says. Anyone can type out a document.

And I can type out a document that says "I didn't do it." I'll make it into a business-sized card. Call it my "get out of jail free" card. Thanks for the idea. I doubt it will work very well, but if it doesn't, you'll pay for my lawyer, right?

To your example of AZ law, the Feds are investigating the sheriff in question ...

And you have just provided an example of where you are not assuming "innocent until proven guilty". Arpaio has not been convicted of anything. He is, therefore, according to your philosophy, innocent.

Re:Led (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 2 years ago | (#38460414)

Because the scientific method only works if you are trying to falsify things, it doesn't work if you are trying to prove things

You lost any and all credibility right there with that statement.

Scientific method is creating a hypothesis and then carrying out tests to prove or disprove your assumption, this is how science works.

Re:Led (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 2 years ago | (#38465202)

Scientific method is creating a hypothesis and then carrying out tests to prove or disprove your assumption, this is how science works.

You cannot prove your assumption, that's why it is an assumption.

You cannot prove your hypothesis, only disprove it. For every observed phenomenon, there are a huge number of hypothetical explanations, some or many of which can be disproven by modifying the observation system to account for other effects and making a new observation.

The best you can do in science is say that the observed phenomenon behaves as predicted by the hypothesis within the margin of error of the experiment, and that other hypotheses that have not been or are not testable are unlikely.

Example? Newtonian physics. For many years, those theories were accurate within the margin of error of the experiments designed to test them. Technology got better, and suddenly we were seeing quantum effects, and things like time errors in occultation of stars. Now we know that Newtonian physics is a good and useful approximation, but quantum physics is more correct.

Re:Led (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38457584)

right on, brotha-man!

Re:Led (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38458954)

There is no IANAL disclaimer. Autistic my ass, somebody just practiced law right in our faces.

Re:Led (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 2 years ago | (#38460336)

"Innocent until proven guilty" still translates into you are guilty enough to be locked up until we find otherwise. That doesn't sound like you are given the benefit of the doubt. It's more like double speak. If you were truly thought to be innocent you would not be detained at all.

In truth "innocent until proven guilty" means you are really guilty until you can prove your innocence.

Re:Led (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38459334)

"Undocumented immigrants" is a fact-based conclusion. They're immigrants. They don't have documents. Facts.

"Illegal immigrants" is a judicial conclusion. They're immigrants. They're found to be in violation of some specific law(s) by a competent authority.

The folks doing the apprehending are not legally competent to render that conclusion. So they correctly refer to the apprehended as "undocumented" rather than "illegal".

Re:Led (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | about 2 years ago | (#38460282)

Miss the point much?

They are wasting tax dollars on this. In 6 years 10,000 hours of flight time, they have caught fewer than 5,000 illegal immigrants and 238 drug smugglers, as opposed to 327,577 illegals caught at another border and within a years time.

Re:Led (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455098)

i now have Immigrant Song in my head.

Really, no big deal (3, Funny)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453216)

All you have to do is blitz the raido waves with garbage, wait for it to go into "home" mode, spoof the GPS signal, and you got yourself a hot sell on ebay.

Re:Really, no big deal (2)

ewieling (90662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453310)

I wonder if you could train a hawk or falcon to take these things down. TFA mentions the drone flying at 20,000 feet -- higher than most birds fly -- but not impossible.

Re:Really, no big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453358)

A few species of bird can get up that high. But given the size and speed of the drones (turbine engines > flapping wings), the only way a bird can bring one down is if it gets sucked in to an engine.

Re:Really, no big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453440)

Unless you have a falcon or hawk weighing several thousand pounds, I don't think they will have any luck no matter how well you train them. Predator drones have around 80 ft wingspan and weigh thousands of pounds.

Re:Really, no big deal (1)

ewieling (90662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453796)

That is much larger than I thought they were. I guess our only hope is the Mexican drug lords find a way to shoot them out of the sky. Pretty sad when our best hope to protect us from our own government is the Mexican drug lords.

Re:Really, no big deal (3, Informative)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456282)

Unless you have a falcon or hawk weighing several thousand pounds, I don't think they will have any luck no matter how well you train them. Predator drones have around 80 ft wingspan and weigh thousands of pounds.

The MQ-9 Reaper uses a 900shp turboprop engine to cruise at 172-195mph with a max speed rating of 300mph. Wingspan 66ft. Max takeoff weight 10,500lbs. Operational altitude 25,000ft, service ceiling 50,000ft. Internal payload 800lbs, external payload 3,000lbs for a combined 3,800lbs payload.

To bring one down without using ECM (electronic counter-measures) of some sort (or attacking/disrupting the operator and/or one of the control links) you'd need an A/A gun at a minimum, military A/A missile system, or some kind of homebrew R/C nose-camera equipped rocket-drone with an explosive/fragmenting warhead.

It's easier and safer to toss out any politician that's OK with using drones for surveillance of US citizens domestically. Not to say I think them being thrown out any time soon is likely. Or if they would even allow the vote outcome to stand if they were all voted out as nearly simultaneously as possible.

Strat

Re:Really, no big deal (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457762)

The MQ-9 Reaper uses a 900shp turboprop engine to cruise at 172-195mph with a max speed rating of 300mph. Wingspan 66ft. Max takeoff weight 10,500lbs. Operational altitude 25,000ft, service ceiling 50,000ft. Internal payload 800lbs, external payload 3,000lbs for a combined 3,800lbs payload.

The poor drug cartels are powerless, because they use the metric system. They can't shoot down something if they can't understand where it is, or how much it weighs.

Re:Really, no big deal (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453334)

All you have to do is blitz the raido waves with garbage, wait for it to go into "home" mode, spoof the GPS signal, and you got yourself a hot sell on ebay.

How do you propose to sell one on eBay?

For sale: 1 Mobile Airborne Surveillance uh thing 10,000 Buy it now No returns (I won't be here.)

Re:Really, no big deal (3, Funny)

uniquename72 (1169497) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454006)

He meant Mexican ebay.

Re:Really, no big deal (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454024)

Easy:

"Why should kids have all the fun? R/C toy for grown-ups includes all the accessories now found on the latest Real Action toys for children, in adult proportions. Real-action missiles come with realistic explosions."

Re:Really, no big deal (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455118)

hang on, don't all you americans have guns?

can a bullet get that high and do damage?

Re:Really, no big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38460404)

Big enough ones can. Problem is that any capable of doing that are few and far between, and then heavily legislated. Don't forget collateral damage either- what goes up, must come down. Plenty of accounts of injuries caused by falling shrapnel.

Fixed cameras vs UAVs (2)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453236)

The Mexico/US border doesn't move a lot. I don't understand why UAV surveillance of it is increasing, while the Boeing system of fixed cameras [seattlepi.com] failed after a $1e9 investment. It seems like fixed cameras would be much cheaper than keeping planes in the air, and would create fewer privacy concerns.

Re:Fixed cameras vs UAVs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453336)

Clearly the problem is that the powers that be see no privacy concern.

Re:Fixed cameras vs UAVs (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453342)

The thing about cameras is that you have to have hundreds of them to cover a mile, and you have to then have dozens of people to keep track of them. Additionally there are inevitably holes in the coverage area and they don't necessarily handle the heat very well.

A predator drone can cover a large amount of ground and be back before anybody crossing would have gotten far.

Re:Fixed cameras vs UAVs (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454052)

Of course, since there are now thousands of tunnels, the border patrol is also going to need drone C-130 transport planes kitted with synthetic-aperture ground-penetrating radar. Which can be done, but is probably going to add a bit to the cost.

Re:Fixed cameras vs UAVs (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453352)

Just off the top of my head: fixed cameras have much more limited vision (so you need lots more, meaning more eyes to watch them as well), are much easier to avoid and/or damage, and (related to the first one and second) can only see a few hundred feet on either side of the border. The border is almost 2000 miles (3,196km), which is a lot of fixed cameras to watch. Can't rely entirely on motion detection either, since trees and animals move too. Also, tunnels can be seen from the air a lot easier.

Those are the technical advantages I can see. As for privacy, I won't touch that, aside from saying: any technology can be used for that, you really need to rely on the law to stop the government from going overboard. I know that isn't working, just saying you can't stop or blame the technology for the government's problem.

Re:Fixed cameras vs UAVs (1)

egamma (572162) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453354)

The Mexico/US border doesn't move a lot. I don't understand why UAV surveillance of it is increasing, while the Boeing system of fixed cameras [seattlepi.com] failed after a $1e9 investment. It seems like fixed cameras would be much cheaper than keeping planes in the air, and would create fewer privacy concerns.

Possibly because it's also a lot easier to disable fixed camera systems, being close to the ground and all. And don't forget the need to run cabling... And/or go around them, at least until you have the complete network in place.

Re:Fixed cameras vs UAVs (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453362)

It's easier to deface or destroy a stationary camera.

Re:Fixed cameras vs UAVs (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453706)

Easy. If they succesfully implemented a permanent surveillance system at the border, they wouldn't be able to award further contracts to their cronies.

Everything about government makes more sense if you assume that graft is its primary function.

Re:Fixed cameras vs UAVs (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454376)

Um, because people can learn where the fixed cameras are and avoid them? UAVs allow adaption to changing border crossing patterns.

Re:Fixed cameras vs UAVs (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456508)

It is instructive to compare the number of terrorist who come across the Mexico border as opposed to the Canadian Border. Given that the current precautions tend to push terrorists to canada, one wonders why we are wasting money beefing up the mexico border instead of putting known and effective measure on the Canada Border.

The broader worry is that the use of drones does not seem to require warrants or other checks to make sure that the police are not just recording members of your family in awkward positions.

Re:Fixed cameras vs UAVs (1)

swalve (1980968) | about 2 years ago | (#38458884)

It used to be a point of pride that the US had the most miles of open border in the world.

Also, the terrorism angle is not the real concern. The border hawks don't want the non-whites coming in and messing up their paradise.

Re:Fixed cameras vs UAVs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38457624)

yes. less UAVs and more fixed, ground cameras. i have much fun with my sniper rifle and fixed, ground cameras. no fun with UAVs. not figured out how to shoot down yet. must talk with Iran soon.

I know they're on the rise... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453294)

I've captured 3 of them this week!

Hello, Ahmed, what's the going rate on these babies?

Crash time! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453308)

Based on the lack of security of these things, I can't wait until amateur hackers start crashing these things or taking them over.

Not so long ago... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453316)

Not so long ago, this type of spying on U.S. residents was seemingly so out of the question. I never heard anything about this when growing up (and I'm not all that old). It says something about our country that this is how we're using our technological advancement -- especially when it's not just spying on potential drug dealers or illegal immigrants, but also spying on average citizens behaving themselves. One could (and probably will) argue "what's the problem if you're not doing something wrong?" The problem is this: not everyone wants to be watched, no matter what they're doing. Privacy is something that every human being innately desires and this is encroaching upon that basic need. Also, one could also argue: why should perfectly well-behaved citizens be spied upon when they're not doing anything wrong? The problem here, innately, is this isn't like the cops on the highway sitting in the corners by trees just eagerly waiting for someone to go by at 100mph because in that case not everyone is actually being watched. When the radar beeps, the cop knows who to pay attention to and nothing is really recorded (except for perhaps the camera on the dash recording you after you're pulled over). Whereas with spying, information is recorded about everyone and not just those breaking laws. There needs to be something in place to either anonymize or delete data that's not relevant to court cases.

The bottom line: years ago, this type of behavior seemed out of the question and now the U.S. has become just as bad as the countries we badmouth every day. There's something really disturbing about the direction we're heading in.

Re:Not so long ago... (5, Insightful)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453480)

I'm guessing I'm a few years older than you, because the thought that's been occurring to me lately is that our nation does pretty much every single thing that was used as an argument as to why the Soviet Union was evil:

- Political and economic based prison systems.
- Torture.
- Wars of aggression.
- Spying on our own people.
- Freedoms stripped away unless you were already in an established position of power.
- Propaganda media.
- Secrets, secrets, secrets.
- Censorship.
- Not taking care of the needs of the people while an elite class skims everything worth skimming.
- Diminishing rights over time.

The list goes and on....

Re:Not so long ago... (3)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453898)

Perhaps, if we're lucky, the oligarchy will collapse in on itself sooner than later, so we may begin the process of rebuilding what has been torn down.

Re:Not so long ago... (3, Insightful)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454430)

The collapse of the party oligarchy in the Soviet Union only brought about the rise of a new criminal-based oligarchy (many of whose members were also members of the original oligarchy). Why do you think things would be different here?

Re:Not so long ago... (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454492)

Why do you think things would be different here?

'Cause we have guns! Oh, wait, so did they... OK, how about the Bill of... nevermind, that's already been subverted... well, there's always... uh...
...
...

Shit.

Get real, moron (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454436)

Absolutely LOL! I love it when the geek filth says stuff like this.

Kid, little nerd shits like you would be amongst the first wave of the slaughtered if society ever collapsed to that point. Pray to whatever you believe in (or not) this never happens, because you will be eaten alive and shat out before the first day passes.

Geeky pampered middle class revolutionaries are complete lulz.

Re:Get real, moron (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455080)

But they've got guns which are magical things that allow a single person to hold off heavily armed gangs and/or the best equipped army in the world.

Re:Not so long ago... (1)

DM9290 (797337) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454664)

I'm guessing I'm a few years older than you, because the thought that's been occurring to me lately is that our nation does pretty much every single thing that was used as an argument as to why the Soviet Union was evil:

- Political and economic based prison systems.
- Torture.
- Wars of aggression.
- Spying on our own people.
- Freedoms stripped away unless you were already in an established position of power.
- Propaganda media.
- Secrets, secrets, secrets.
- Censorship.
- Not taking care of the needs of the people while an elite class skims everything worth skimming.
- Diminishing rights over time.

The list goes and on....

To be fair: our elites are way better taken care of than their elites...

Re:Not so long ago... (3, Informative)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455314)

The list will go on unless the path is abruptly interrupted.

Ron Paul 2012
Gary Johnson 2016

Re:Not so long ago... (1)

Felgior (856383) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457458)

We could ask our selfs the question; " Is the United States of America still the land of the free ? " I do not think that any government has the political willpower to resist spying on their own people and censor the media or internet. Why ? Because it has become so easy ... the tools to do this can be easily bought. It not like china that had to build the great digital wall of China from scratch. The equipment is ready for use on the shelf of several corporations. It just costs some tax money. Selling it to the people is easy; "We need to know what the terrorists are planning!" On the other hand the USA has already a big digital spying tool, Echelon. The economic divide is getting bigger. The rich are getting richer. The poor have less to fight for their rights in court or worry about the freedom that is stripped away by the elected politicians. Is has been known for ages that power corrupts. Why would it be any different in the USA or any other part of the world ?

Re:Not so long ago... (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457792)

But don't you know??? They were Freedom-Hating, Baby-Eating Blood-Thirsty Commies!!!! They just HAD to go down! We're so much morally superior than them!

When the same guys who were in power during the Communist Terror took over the new Capitalist Heaven, they became Respectable Entrepreneurial Freedom Heroes. What would have happened if the same people had remained in power today? Oh, wait...

Oh why do you have freedom? Why do you hate America?

Re:Not so long ago... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454062)

Not so long ago, this type of spying on U.S. residents was seemingly so out of the question. I never heard anything about this when growing up (and I'm not all that old). It says something about our country that this is how we're using our technological advancement -- especially when it's not just spying on potential drug dealers or illegal immigrants, but also spying on average citizens behaving themselves.

I used to be against this too, but a little less than 3 years ago I came around to seeing why this is great. The only reason I can see anyone being against spying on US citizens is racism.

Re:Not so long ago... (1)

harryk (17509) | about 2 years ago | (#38462936)

and yet, with nothing to hide, you posted as anonymous...

Re:Not so long ago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454308)

An even scarier reason is that those same people that are telling you "if your not doing anything wrong don't worry" are the same people who decide what is wrong and what is not.

Re:Not so long ago... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454494)

The government and various rogue agencies have long supported spying on US citizens - it is naive to think that this is a recent phenomenon.

Of course in recent memory we do have Nixon and his henchmen; J.E.Hoover use of the FBI for his own agendas as well as nebulously-lawful wiretaps, etc. in search of organized crime. Further back we can look at various usually war-framed laws/dictates that imposed information filtering and espionage charges. My small reading of history would lead me to believe that this didn't happen back through the ages, Romans, Greeks, Persians, Chinese, pre-history.

The Patriot Act (the publically known pieces of it) allow a great deal of intrusion into our private lives and intercourses - witness the massive telecom slurp uncovered at ATT. Ft. Meade (NSA) has probably a finger on the pulse of every electron that courses down the tubes. It is disingenuous to believe that this information is not being collated, correlated, bound and delivered to the (good/bad) guys.

Today in South Carolina (2)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453516)

They announced the SC National Guard is going to start practicing with UAVs. The National Guard unit is one specifically tasked to civil disorder operations and "homeland security"......

http://www.thestate.com/2011/12/21/2087491/sc-guard-unit-to-fly-small-uav.html [thestate.com]

Re:Today in South Carolina (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454060)

Is this supposed to be a pro or a con? Should I be afraid that protest might be watched, or happy its being used by a group that is less likely to have reason to fly it around randomly looking in people's yards?

Re:Today in South Carolina (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455830)

They announced the SC National Guard is going to start practicing with UAVs. The National Guard unit is one specifically tasked to civil disorder operations and "homeland security"......

The article you link to says they are training to use the device for an upcoming deployment. Would you rather send the national guard troops into conflicts without training? They have guns, too. Should they be prohibited from training with guns until they get where they are going?

National Guard units are also tasked with civil disaster relief, which includes the ability to remotely asses the damage and prioritize response. A UAV will give them the ability to view the disaster area from above, something that will help them make better decisions and provide assistance where it is most needed most effectively.

i stop respecting (3, Interesting)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453586)

any source that measures the rate in fiscal years at which immigrants are incarcerated
and any source that implies floundering white flight suburbia has somehow become inoculated against any need for drone surveillance in the 21st century, yet dense urban areas are teeming shit-holes that must be policed and patrolled up to the minute.

I live in downtown Los Angeles. our "drones" are piloted police helicopters affectionately referred to as "the birds" which have canvassed the city for nearly 40 years. They started downtown when white-flight basically mandated them to prevent the scourges of economic collapse and urban decay from ever encroaching upon bob and his trophy wife in the burbs. soon they began patrolling hollywood, and santa monica, and pretty soon the ubiquitous helicopter-with-searchlight was patrolling the skies of every street in LA from sepulveda to sierra madre villa. its simple. if you dont like drones, dont accept them. address problems like crime, unemployment, and social inequality and for god sake recognize the fact that every meal you've eaten at a restaurant in the past year has at some point been prepared on some level by an "illegal."
or dont do anything about the problem. blame victims, move away from trouble neighbourhoods and avert your eyes. vote the party line and soon enough, you'll enjoy all the wonders police state surveillance at cost to you.

Are you guys for real? (2)

suricatta (617778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453612)

I mean, seriously US - what the hell is wrong with you lot?
(And if any of you think I'm trolling - drink less cool aid)

Re:Are you guys for real? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454550)

I'll ignore that it's spelled kool-aid . But no matter how crazy we seem now, this sort of technology always trickles to everywhere, so be vigilant of your own government.

Re:Are you guys for real? (1)

n6kuy (172098) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456378)

Actually, it's spelled Flavor Aid.

Wait for the day they decide to arm them... (2)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453700)

Oh, wait. They already have [vanguarddefense.com] . Shadowhawk UAVs are being deployed with taser shotguns.

ROI (4, Interesting)

JobyOne (1578377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454334)

Predator drones cost $3,234/hour to operate, according to Customs and Border Protection. TFA pegs the up-front cost of the drones as $20 million each (and CBP has eight of them and is buying one more). That means in total they've spent more than $200 million on this little boondoggle.

Even assuming that every single one of those arrests wouldn't have been made at all without the drone, that's over $41,000 per arrest in surveillance costs alone.

It doesn't sound like CBP is producing a great ROI.

Re:ROI (4, Insightful)

hguorbray (967940) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454496)

yeah -but they will have paid for themselves when they become armed and are used to put down pro-democracy, erm terrorist protests that rent-a-cops are too squeamish or outnumbered to do in order to save the corporate republic...with liberty and justice for some...corporations

-I'm just sayin'

we cannot allow this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454478)

we as citizens of the united states of american cannot allow our government to use UAVs against us in any form or function. it is absolutely unacceptable and must stop.

Ahem... military facilities used domestically? (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454566)

Didn't ANYBODY but me notice this? That the drones are apparently hangared -- and more importantly flown from -- a naval base?

The military has absolutely no place being involved in any kind of domestic surveillance at all. This is by far the MOST worrisome aspect of the whole thing! Yet nobody else yet has even mentioned it.

Slashdot, what has happened to you?

Coasties (4, Informative)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454990)

Sorry -- posse comitatus doesn't apply to the coast guard [wikipedia.org] . And you get exactly one guess as to what service that "navy" hanger belongs to. Protip: It isn't the navy.

Re:Coasties (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#38461634)

Fine... but the article didn't say "Coast Guard", it said naval base.

Re:Coasties (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#38478410)

Well, then, everything's ok, right? Nothing to see here! Move along.

Re:Ahem... military facilities used domestically? (1)

uncle slacky (1125953) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457696)

Also, anywhere less than 100 miles from the border is effectively a constitutional rights-free zone anyway - see for example
http://www.aclu.org/constitution-free-zone-map/ [aclu.org]

Re:Ahem... military facilities used domestically? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 2 years ago | (#38461712)

Of course the "laws" that make it so are themselves unconstitutional... but so what's new?

This kind of BS is precisely why we need someone like Ron Paul as President. Any of the other candidates (all of them "more of the same", despite their campaign rhetoric) would just give us... more of the same.

Big Brother is ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455246)

Neraly 18 years behind schedule. Fucking military contractors.

Shoot them down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38456338)

Do it invisibly with off the shelf gear, and keep doing it. It will become like cleaning out the hornets nest from the BBQ or mowing the lawns.

Stop that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38457378)

My fleet of drones is watching all of you, so stop that right now!

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