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FAA Bill Authorizes Surveillance Drones Over US

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

Government 294

fyngyrz writes "Congress passed a bill this week that makes it easier for the government to fly unmanned spy planes in U.S. airspace. From the article: 'The FAA Reauthorization Act, which President Obama is expected to sign, also orders the Federal Aviation Administration to develop regulations for the testing and licensing of commercial drones by 2015. Privacy advocates say the measure will lead to widespread use of drones for electronic surveillance by police agencies across the country and eventually by private companies as well.'"

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294 comments

Maybe cost savings is the goal (5, Funny)

mykos (1627575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980249)

Why spend so much money shipping these things to drop errant bombs on brown people when we can save the cash and do it right here at home?

Re:Maybe cost savings is the goal (4, Funny)

mrclisdue (1321513) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980317)

I, for one, welcome our new overdrones.

cheers,

Re:Maybe cost savings is the goal (1)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980543)

Why spend so much manning these things to drop errant bombs on brown people when we can save the cash and fully automate them?

http://www.newsytype.com/11606-automated-killer-drones/ [newsytype.com]

Don't worry (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980255)

If you aren't doing anything illegal, you really have nothing to hide. The world will be a safer place.

Re:Don't worry (3, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980325)

If you aren't doing anything illegal, you really have nothing to hide. The world will be a safer place.

I can't imagine the headache this will cause for air traffic controllers. They'll have these little blips on their radar ... and if it's a small airport these things could make it less safe for local air traffic.

Re:Don't worry (3, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980405)

Not to mention the por guy that has to clean the windshield of the Airbus. "Hey Tom! Look at the size of THIS bug!"

Re:Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980411)

How are we expected to secure our airports if we can't have dozens of little planes circling over them all the time?

You act like the terrorists will ask for clearance to crash into things.

Re:Don't worry (5, Insightful)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980421)

I hope these things are at least carrying transponders so they even make a blip on the radar at all. Without a transponder they'll be invisible to ATC and also won't trigger TCAS avoidance manoeuvers from aircraft. I don't know what altitude those things fly at, and whether or not there is any contact between the operators and air traffic controllers, but I hope they'll at least try to keep some kind of separation with normal aircraft.

Re:Don't worry (4, Informative)

sheetsda (230887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980843)

I hope these things are at least carrying transponders so they even make a blip on the radar at all.

They'd still show up on radar without a transponder and it would make no sense at all to not have a $200 transponder on $200,000 drone. Without a transponder ATC just wouldn't have any altitude data (if turning off your transponder was all it took to hide from radar, radar would be useless in a war situation where the enemy is trying to hide - obviously not the case - and there would be no need for stealth aircraft). Aircraft are required have to be carrying an altitude reporting transponder to enter most controlled airspace for safety reasons. Aircraft are required to contact ATC prior to entering, and/or stay in continuous contact with ATC also for safety reasons.

The FAA isn't stupid when it comes to safety (you might even say they're borderline paranoid). They won't give arbitrary exceptions to safety-related regulations.

Re:Don't worry (4, Informative)

jittles (1613415) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980933)

They'd still show up on radar without a transponder and it would make no sense at all to not have a $200 transponder on $200,000 drone. Without a transponder ATC just wouldn't have any altitude data (if turning off your transponder was all it took to hide from radar, radar would be useless in a war situation where the enemy is trying to hide - obviously not the case - and there would be no need for stealth aircraft).

We aren't talking about Military radar installations, NORAD will already know where those drones are. We are talking about FAA style ATC, which DOES depend on transponders. If you have a big enough bird, you may get painted by ATC, but these drones are probably small enough and low enough that they will not give good returns. Even if there is a return, it may just look like a flock of birds, you never know. Without transponders, these drones will be dangerous. Even with transponders they may be dangerous for people flying in VFR and below ATC altitudes.

Re:Don't worry (4, Informative)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38981123)

There are two kinds of "radar" for ATC: Primary radar sends out a signal and listens for reflections, often picking up flocks of birds and even clutter from ground objects like windmills while not being able to detect many smaller objects. Secondary radar relies on transponders: it sends out signals and puts a blip on the screen for every coded reply it gets from aircraft transponders. It is much more precise, which is why ATC pretty much exclusively uses secondary radar. Things without a transponder do NOT show up on their screen. If there is ever an emergency requirement to locate some flying object without a transponder, they usually have to contact the military who still use primary radar.

You are quite correct that aircraft are required to have transponders in most controlled airspace. I just hope this applies to unmanned drones as well, and the people operating those drones keep them out of controlled airspace. But what if they are doing surveillance on someone close to an airport? ("close" meaning 20 miles or so). How do they coordinate with ATC? I personally have no idea, but I hope they are in contact somehow.

Re:Don't worry (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980423)

If you aren't doing anything illegal, you really have nothing to hide. The world will be a safer place.

I can't imagine the headache this will cause for air traffic controllers. They'll have these little blips on their radar ... and if it's a small airport these things could make it less safe for local air traffic.

That's why this is part of the FAA modernization bill - they want to get rid of the commercial pilots, too. Ready to hop on a 747 piloted from the ground?

Re:Don't worry (3, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980455)

As long as AT&T isn't in charge of the wireless. That'd be one hell of a dropped call.

Re:Don't worry (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980505)

Yes. Though it would be piloted from the plane, with only occasional questions to/commands from the ground, same as with a human pilot.

Re:Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980681)

Clueless. Do you really know anything at all about Air Traffic Control?

Re:Don't worry (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38981001)

I can't imagine the headache this will cause for air traffic controllers. They'll have these little blips on their radar ... and if it's a small airport these things could make it less safe for local air traffic.

They're not planning on using radar anymore.

Part of this bill is the phasing out of radar as a traffic-control tool and its replacement with gps/satnav/computer coordination of aircraft positions and related information.

Basically, everything will be reporting its position/velocity/etc, and that information will be automagically relayed to everything else.

What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Don't worry (0)

Scutter (18425) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980327)

If you aren't doing anything illegal, you really have nothing to hide. The world will be a safer place.

So, I guess you're OK if we just come in a search your house whenever we feel like it? It shouldn't be a problem for you if you have nothing to hide.

Re:Don't worry (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980443)

No, as "public" is not the same as "private", hence those two words existing for quite some time.

Re:Don't worry (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980447)

And they'll kill your dog when they do it.

Re:Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980521)

hard to believe that someone with such a low uid needs this, but:

whoosh....

Re:Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980391)

Hi John, you anonymous coward.

Re:Don't worry (3, Insightful)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980777)

You won't have to do anything illegal. Say one day you are going about your normal routine, one of these drones is flying overhead and you do something in view of it that is deemed "suspicious behavior". Due to one act that was perceived as suspicious you get your very own drone following your full time. Sooner or later you will do something that compounds your situation.

You are right, the world would be a safer place, and I see no opportunity for abuse of these.

If they were manned aircraft would it be an issue? (3, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980295)

"Eeeee! Teh dronz!" Ahem...

Put the same equipment in a manned aircraft and it's a snoozer.

Some appropriate Beechcraft antenna pron. I like antennae (328X0 represent!):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Beechcraft_RC-12N_Huron_in_flight.jpg [wikipedia.org]

Re:If they were manned aircraft would it be an iss (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980321)

Exactly. This has to do with unmanned aircraft, which is entirely orthogonal to surveillance aircraft.

Personally, I'd like to see unmanned cargo flights; there's no real reason why every UPS/FedEx plane needs any human beings on it at all. (Of course, I supposed that would have ruined the movie Castaway).

captcha: "airmail". heh.

Re:If they were manned aircraft would it be an iss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980363)

Unmanned means they can have more of them, which means more surveillance than manned aircraft would allow. Which translates into less privacy for us.

Re:If they were manned aircraft would it be an iss (1)

ericartman (955413) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980641)

And privatization means the police can hire companies to do things the constitution won't let them, pesky little laws.

Re:If they were manned aircraft would it be an iss (2)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980437)

Until the automation fails and the plane crashes into a residential area.

Re:If they were manned aircraft would it be an iss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980535)

I don't really think you an argument since a good portion of airline accidents (most?) are pilot error.

Re:If they were manned aircraft would it be an iss (4, Insightful)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980653)

That's because most automation failures are corrected by pilots. Electronic components fail regularly, which is usually no big deal as long as there are humans to fix things and fly manually if necessary. If every autopilot failure would result in a crash, there would be multiple crashes every day.

Re:If they were manned aircraft would it be an iss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980539)

We're getting to the point where our automation is more reliable than the unreliable fleshy meatbag doing the work.

Re:If they were manned aircraft would it be an iss (3, Insightful)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980807)

So far I haven't had any fellow pilots fail on me, but I can't begin to count the number of failures of navigation systems, autopilots, etcetera that I've experienced. The automation does usually work much more precisely than humans, but it lacks common sense and sometimes just completely fails. That's when things get interesting for us pilots. The industry is not even close to beginning to consider getting rid of pilots or even going down to a single pilot in airliners. Except the military with their drones which, guess what, do crash frequently. For them, the benefits outweigh the cost of losing the occasional piece of equipment.

Re:If they were manned aircraft would it be an iss (3, Insightful)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980335)

> Put the same equipment in a manned aircraft and it's a snoozer.

Interesting point. I guess on some level, we're hoping that with a manned aircraft, an egregiously and obviously illegal order to target U.S. citizens might be disobeyed or even made public.

Re:If they were manned aircraft would it be an iss (1)

mr.mctibbs (1546773) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980849)

If drone aircraft had the same capabilities and cost that manned aircraft do, folks wouldn't bother to use them. UAVs in use domestically are disturbing because they provide a greater intelligence-gathering capability than regular aircraft at a much lower cost. We've reached the point in our society that making things easier for law enforcement is not to the public's benefit.

Ok as long... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980303)

...as privately owned anti-aircraft missiles are also legalized :-)

Re:Ok as long... (0)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980483)

I'm OK with everyone having drones so long as I'm the only one with the fuel to power them.

Not cost-effective (4, Informative)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980319)

Why spy on your citizens when the overwhelmingly large majority never do anything seriously wrong?
Seems this is not a cost-effective way to catch some bad guys.

Of course, it is cheaper than have helicopters with a 2-man crew... but "cheaper than ridiculously expensive" can still mean "too expensive".

Re:Not cost-effective (1)

synapse7 (1075571) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980361)

I wonder if we're talking turbine powered autonomous drones or glorified remote control hobbyist grade toys.

Re:Not cost-effective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980369)

"Why spy on your citizens when the overwhelmingly large majority never do anything seriously wrong?
Seems this is not a cost-effective way to catch some bad guys."

When has that ever been a deterrent for some overzealous apparatchik with more money than sense? D.C. is full of such "useful idiots".

Re:Not cost-effective (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980509)

Why do police have patrol cars that just drive around? For one, it's a deterrent to those few bad guys; for another, it makes for a quicker response to a specific incident. Replace a few patrol cars with patrol drones and you could potentially reduce costs, improve traffic flow (all those dicks who slam on the brakes when they see a car with a light bar), and have a much wider area of coverage. Of course you couldn't replace all patrol cars with drones, but it's probably feasible to replace some.

Re:Not cost-effective (2)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980753)

The government only goes after the bad guys, after all. I know I want to be watched at all times.

For one, it's a deterrent to those few bad guys

That doesn't seem to be working in any noticeable way. Or, at least, not any way that I think is measurable.

Re:Not cost-effective (5, Insightful)

gambino21 (809810) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980583)

Seems this is not a cost-effective way to catch some bad guys.

The real goal of this is not to save money. The goal is to make money for the drone companies, and to score political points for the politician that can say they value national security.

Re:Not cost-effective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980743)

you seem to assume this has anything to do with catching "bad guys".

Re:Not cost-effective (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980797)

East Germany is said to have reached close to 50% of it's populace spying on their neighbors. It's interesting because the paranoia becomes a self-feed back cycle. You give out propaganda on the enemies of the state; I mean people; being everywhere and then children are raised with this "fact" which causing them to look even harder for the people who aren't inline.

Converging steps (1, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980337)

NDAA and this bill and TSA and Patriot Act and every other power that government is stealing from the people, including preventing people from moving their capital out of the country (if you are a US citizen, just try and open an account somewhere abroad), and a new 450USD fee to renounce your citizenship, which eventually can be made any arbitrary amount, why not USD45,000,000, even the fence on the US/Mexican border, all of this converging into one giant red signal - your country is being turned into a concentration camp and eventually you'll need a permit to move around, a permit to move your capital around, and once your government decides to turn it into a 'socialist heaven', there will be no just price, capital and exchange controls, but they'll 'exchange' your money 1 to 100 or 1 to 1000 or 1 to 10000 or 1 to 100000 to ensure none of you have even nominal dollars.

You still have a choice, you can still vote for Ron Paul and try and stop this before your country is turned into a bad parody of what USSR used to be.

Re:Converging steps (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980399)

All that tin foil is squeezing your brain!

Re:Converging steps (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980407)

Oh you poor fool, Ron Paul is one of "them" as well.

Re:Converging steps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980475)

I don't have much to say other than I fully agree, Most of the American people could care less about liberty.

Yes, and let private companies do it instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980563)

Under the Ron Paul ideal, private companies would be free to do much worse under the banner of "individual liberty." And, if you don't like that your insurance company insists on putting a camera in your house, you'll be free to choose from the 3 other insurance companies...who also require the same thing. Or you can go live in a cabin in the wilds of Alaska. See: individual liberty.

No to Ron Paul's insanity: it's reasonable Congresscritters we need.

Re:Yes, and let private companies do it instead (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980599)

private companies would be free to do much worse under the banner of "individual liberty."

- There is nothing that a private company can do that can ever compare to what a dictatorial totalitarian government can do and has done and is doing.

Government has the structure, the power and the legitimacy to operate in a way that is similarly legitimate, after all, the MSM and the courts and the police and the army is under the control of government and no private company can control people in this way, and even if a private company becomes de-facto government, it then is no longer just a company - it's either a dictatorship or it is a democracy of some sort with elections, etc.

Government is what governs, and it is up to the people to decide who governs them, and currently it looks like the people of USA have decided.

Re:Yes, and let private companies do it instead (2)

E_Ron.Eous (2521544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980629)

Actually, it's reasonable, knowledgeable and aware citizens this country needs. Ron Paul isn't insane, 98% of Americans are.

its getting worse... (2)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980603)

have you seen the number of stories floating about talking about how primitive, out of touch, our Constitution is.

As in, its getting in their way more and more and they really don't like it. Worse, there are people in our country clamoring for stricter adherence to it.

We're giving our freedom away. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980687)

This is what gets me about my countrymen: they get all bent out of shape and spew shit like "small government", "freedom" and whatnot over TAXES - one of the lowest rates in the industrialized World, but when it comes to government surveillance and monitoring under the PATRIOT Act, no problemo. If you do nothing wrong, there's nothing to worry about is the attitude among John Q. Public. Outside of the Slashdot crowd here, most people that I know at least, think there's nothing wrong about the Patriot Act. I keeps them "safe" after all from those Muslims that want to kill us over our fredom and make us live under Sharia law. You'll never see a Teabagger dress up as Franklin or Jefferson saying "Abolish our police state!" Nah uh. Not gonna happen.

Americans don't know what Freedom is, I'm afraid. Most of us think Freedom is no taxes.

A person is smart. People are stupid.

why would obama sign that? (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980341)

Wonder what else is buried in it.

Re:why would obama sign that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980417)

Rest assured, Obama told you he wouldn't use NDAA to detain us citizens. So why worry?

and what are they going to do... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980357)

When the average person starts a) hacking them for their own use b) shooting them down with whatever they can find or make?

Do Not Want. (+1)

Re:and what are they going to do... (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980459)

Hey, if we can hack them for our own use, DO want!

Re:and what are they going to do... (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980551)

and what are they going to do... When the average person starts a) hacking them for their own use b) shooting them down with whatever they can find or make?

- what do you mean "what are they going to do"? NDAA.

Disturbing mental image (2, Interesting)

Peter Simpson (112887) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980385)

View from a drone over the US:
- people, looking like ants, moving about their daily business
- drone operator clicks on a button, tags overlay on the image, connecting each "ant" with their phone number, sensed by nearby cell tower geolocation

Re:Disturbing mental image (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980471)

That sounds pretty cool.

Re:Disturbing mental image (3, Insightful)

whovian (107062) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980547)

That's just the first layer. Now you also have names, perhaps also personal and social connections because you have a Facebook or similar account. It could be interesting for sociological studies and literally knowing who your audience is. The police state would be thrilled, too.

Connect The Dots. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980433)

So, does this mean that:

Patriot Act of 2001 - (Some Provisions of Patriot Act of 2001) + National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 + FAA Reauthorization Act = The U.S. Government's ability to shoot and kill it's own citizens legally?

Think of the ... (1)

HellYeahAutomaton (815542) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980441)

climbers or hikers ??

"Unmanned aircraft also could be useful for fighting fires or finding missing climbers or hikers, he added."

Why is this a big deal? (1)

Stides (461262) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980445)

They can spy on you from helicopters or high altitude manned aircraft, so why is it that everyone is up in arms about unmanned aircraft? I would love to see anti-spying without a warrant legislation, but this just doesn't seem to be any worse than what is already happening.

Re:Why is this a big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980991)

With manned aircraft, they need to actually have people to fly the aircraft. However, this removes that restriction and makes it that much more simple to have mass surveillance.

Also, who said we support them spying on us using any aircraft?

The technology itself isn't bad, and I don't think it should be banned, but I do not believe they should be allowed to spy on anyone.

Anti Piracy Drone Fleet (1)

elevative (1924870) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980449)

Willing to bet $100 that there's already been meetings at high levels at *insert antipiracy org here* trying to figure out how to roll out a drone fleet to catch all you evil pirates. The trick is getting the authority to call in an air strike once they catch you.

Article on BBC about this EU yesterday (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980451)

There was an article on the bbc yesterday about small UAV's being used to verify crop types etc etc for the purpose of auditing EU farming subsidies. Certain subsidies are dependant upon farmers keeping wide headlands of wild flowers etc and there is also a subsidiy called "set aside" paid for taking land out of production. They were saying that in countries such as spain which has a large number of small fields and hilly terrain UAV's were far more practical than satelite imagery (shadows in valleys etc) as they allowed oblique imagery not just top down

Re:Article on BBC about this EU yesterday (1)

Tokolosh (1256448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980635)

If you didn't have subsidies in the first place, this would not be necessary. This is how good intentions and government spirals out of control.

Orwell FTW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980463)

The calendar may say 2012, but it sure feels like 1984.

Shadowrun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980489)

(Posting AC because I'm at work...)

I remember playing Shadowrun as a kid. You know, that cyberpunk game with magic and trolls and stuff. At the rate things are going, I'm expecting magic to make a resurgence (we already have trolls - just look around on the internet...).

Just gonna get this out of the way... (-1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980493)

"Begun, the Drone War has..."

Privacy advocates are targettng the wrong thing (5, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980519)

This in itself is not unreasonable. I can see many potential legitimate uses for pilotless drones both for law enforcement and such things as disaster recovery. In itself there's nothing wrong with this law.

What is unreasonable is law enforcements desire to spy on everyone all the time. This is something that needs to be addressed, but it needs to be addressed directly. Not by attacking legislation that happens to enable it. We need to fight for legislation that explicitly sets limits on where the police are allowed to watch us.

Re:Privacy advocates are targettng the wrong thing (1)

genkernel (1761338) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980721)

Mod Parent up. The question is not one of stopping the technology from being used, but how to put effective limits on its use.

Re:Privacy advocates are targettng the wrong thing (3, Informative)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980791)

FAA has no regulations over privacy, it's not their department. FAA regulations are limited to air worthiness, traffic control, flying altitudes... And there is nothing in the current laws that stop unmanned aircraft from that standpoint (in fact, as unmanned predates manned flight technically, though it was unpowered) there have always been regulations to allow some form of unmanned aircraft.

Re:Privacy advocates are targettng the wrong thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38981017)

We need to fight for legislation that explicitly sets limits on where the police are allowed to watch us.

We had one of those once... A "Constitution" I think it was called.

And preditor drones? (0)

fredrated (639554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980575)

How long before they are circling overhead?

Re:And preditor drones? (1)

ddtracy (2565031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38981039)

Don't worry you will hear them buzzing if they are there. They won't be 20000 feet up if they are investigating something. I have never heard anything more irritating than those drones.

Resonably Expecting Less Privacy (3, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980587)

The 8 foot high walls surrounding my backyard are the only things keeping me from being charged with exposing myself in public when I'm sunbathing in the nude to combat my pasty basement-programmer appearance.

I currently have a reasonable expectation of privacy in my own back yard, even though aeroplanes and satellites pass overhead because they're most likely not actively recording video of the ground.

Will children be prevented from accessing the drone footage? How can you be sure when such young hackers exist today?!

Will they be publishing the planned flight paths of the drones so I can know when my reasonable expectations of privacy have become unreasonable? If not... Why Not? I'm not sure I want children playing in the vicinity of flying machines build by the lowest-bidder of a government contract.

Additionally, I've been working up the plans for a very large parabolic solar reflector, capable of "flash-tanning" me in mere milliseconds, or even acting as a large out door oven. I won't focus the mirrors as high as airliners fly, for obvious reasons; However, I must leave the oven focused far above the ground to prevent children from accidentally burning themselves.

Won't someone Think of the Children?!
Without flight plans for these new low-flying craft, they can't possibly hold me accountable for such accidents involving the drones. I've done my duty by informing the government agencies of my physical address, and herein have publicly exposed my habits. It surely won't be my fault if a drone fails to avoid flying above my home, and gets caught in the path of my new death-ray...

Re:Resonably Expecting Less Privacy (-1, Troll)

ddtracy (2565031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980717)

Why would you sunbathe in the nude? Do you really want to have cancer on your yet unused dick?

Not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980589)

...FAA to develop regulations for the testing and licensing of commercial drones by 2015. Privacy advocates say the measure will lead to widespread use of drones ... by private companies as well.

"commercial" pretty much means private companies, no?

Google and Microsoft are already buying aerial photography taken from manned aircraft for Google and Bing maps. (I can see my neighbor sunbathing in the nude on Bing. She's pretty hot.)

Anyway, "privacy advocates" seem to be fear mongering in this case IMO. Not really news.

So doe this mean they'll be hardning this tech? (1)

TooTechy (191509) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980613)

Or can I go out side with a Sonic Screwdriver and land one on my lawn?

These drones will make it very tricky to plan the next revolution.

Just use a (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980645)

umbrella-brella-brella-brella-brella!

If Iran can do it, so can we (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980715)

In other news, a police drone was shot down/disabled by an unknown anti-aircraft weapon.

Im all for this (4, Insightful)

RenderSeven (938535) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980723)

...as long as civilians get to use drones to watch the police, members of congress, etc. You know, the stuff we're supposed to do in a democracy.

Surveillance drones just happen to fall into this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980729)

Correct me if I'm wrong, but what the bill really does is allows the FAA to start regulating the flight of unmanned aircraft in US airspace. It just so happens that this includes surveillance drones. In my opinion, this is a very good thing! Think about the advantages to air transport if you can have robo-blimps flying down a special corridor where they won't run into any aircraft carrying people. It's silly that we don't have a legal way to do things like this right now. Going down this path even opens the doorway to the infamous flying car - which would never be safe with human drivers.

Re:Surveillance drones just happen to fall into th (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980915)

Yes you do, you've always had regulations on it. Unless under a certain size and being flown under a certain altitude it's mostly the same regulations as any other aircraft of that class.

Other uses (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980737)

Personally, I see drones as being being more likely to be deployed as cargo aircraft, traffic monitoring, environmental monitoring, and ultimately, as passenger aircraft.

Sure, it's possible, even likely that the government will want to deploy domestic drones but frankly we as a populace leave so many electronic breadcrumbs from credit card usage to constant internet connects to carrying gps-cellphones I don't see a huge potential additional intel windfall from drone-format intelligence gathering (for the bulk of the US population).

Why... (2)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980741)

I mean, what is wrong with the current aviation laws in this regard, there is nothing stopping them operating unmanned aircraft under the current laws. They are fairly relaxed laws, one can fly any unmanned aircraft provided certain conditions are met (line of site, fail safe radio control, low altitude limit...), if one goes outside these regulations one must have flight worthiness certificate, registered pilot, contact air traffic control, transponders onboard... same as any other aircraft. There is nothing in the current (FAA) regulations as far as I know that would require a new bill to allow police and private companies to fly unmanned aircraft.

Re:Why... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38981091)

You state facts but missed one - there is currently no provision for being able to use a civilian sUAS for commercial purposes. All these regulations (technically suggestions, not regulations, as I understand it) you cited only apply to hobby and recreation. So, for example, if an enterprising hobbyist wanted to earn income by taking aerial pictures or videos, he or she would be breaking the law currently. The RCAPA is trying to work with the FAA to fix this in these new rules. While some people are worried about privacy, others are worried about an unreasonable abrogation of freedom.

Drones over us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980745)

That's OK there will be drones over them too.

Go ahead.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980793)

Go ahead...fly a drone near my home. I ALWAYS love a chance to bring out my .308 for more long range target practice.

Chill, people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980809)

Aside from being an expensive boondoggle, the operators of this system would be bored to tears if the had to track and listen to EVERY citizen. If they trip over a few drug dealers and terrorists in the process, go for it.

Seriously??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980835)

We get this, but still no flying cars???

This is inevitable, eventually every plane you get on will be flown by an autopilot, with people present for backup and peace-of-mind. As stated elsewhere, the real battle here is to achieve legislation regulating the usage. Let's see states jump right out of the gate requiring warrants for searches of this sort. And ban their use by private companies (news outlets, corporations, etc.) without explicit permission by those below.

Green Lasers (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980871)

No further comment needed.

Government (1)

Higgins_Boson (2569429) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980935)

What we really need to do the world over is force them to pass bills which allow citizens to spy on government officials at home and at work and at play. Where ever they may roam, we should be able to see what they are doing, where they are doing it and how much of our money they are spending to do so.

Can we knock these things out of the sky? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38980959)

If I see one flying over my house will I legally be able to shoot it down, legally?

What about personal drones? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 2 years ago | (#38980965)

This isn't a problem unless the law allows government and private companies more power than individuals. Someone must watch the watchers. Is anyone here familiar with the bill?

Spy Satellites? (2, Interesting)

Amtrak (2430376) | more than 2 years ago | (#38981069)

Ok, I understand the concerns about privacy and all but what can a drone do that a well placed spy satellite can't? If they want to have tabs on all citizens in the country the can do that already, from space. Or they can fly manned air craft. The US Federal Government does not need this bill to spy on you and though cost might be an issue does it really look like the Fed cares about how much it spends? What this is about is whither or not local/state governments, or private citizens can use drones. I for one would like to see drone based delivery services, who doesn't want pizza delivered by a small helicopter hovering out your apartment window.

Remind me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38981085)

Why do I want to live in the US again?

Can't wait for one to crash into a school (1)

tekrat (242117) | more than 2 years ago | (#38981095)

And then the government blames the crash on radio interference, and then demands that, in the interest of protecting children, we give up all our electronic equipment that might cause RF interference.

In the meantime, in pirate-land...
"Hey, wanna crash a drone? There's an app for that!"

Dick Cheney, while trying to shoot down a drone over his house, shoots some guy he knows in the face.

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