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US Air Force Can 'Accidentally' Spy On American Citizens For 90 Days

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the never-leaving-the-house-again dept.

United States 200

AstroPhilosopher writes "Researchers at the Federation of American Scientists have discovered documentation (PDF) that allows the military to keep footage from drones for up to 90 days to determine whether further investigation is warranted. Besides using footage from natural disasters and monitoring of domestic military bases, all that's truly required is for an operator to 'accidentally' have the camera running while flying."

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200 comments

Yep, more of the same (4, Insightful)

colinrichardday (768814) | about 2 years ago | (#39942471)

Are Americans going to tolerate this? Post 9/11, probably.

Re:Yep, more of the same (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39942565)

Just out of curiosity, at what point does the phrase "Post 9/11" cease to add meaning to a statement? Unless there's another time line I've not heard of, we're all living and commenting in the same era.

Re:Yep, more of the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39942643)

It is more of an implicit acknowledgment to those who lived through it and an explicity reminder to those born after it that things were different than they are now.

Or at least that is my take on the GP's use of the phrase.

Re:Yep, more of the same (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | about 2 years ago | (#39943245)

I meant "Post 9/11" in the sense that 9/11 allowed the government to treat terrorism as a bogeyman to attempt to frighten us into accepting encroachments on our liberties.

Re:Yep, more of the same (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943511)

He's saying americans used to stand for something. They used to stand for freedom. Now...well look at the comments of people here condoning the government increasing its reach and patronizing anyone who feels that their freedoms are at risk.

Re:Yep, more of the same (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#39942593)

I'm having a hard time seeing what is wrong with this.

Re:Yep, more of the same (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39942793)

Because American law enforcement is not a black or white thing. If they have "suspicion" they "detain" you. All of which is absolutely against the US Constitution, but the powermongers and heavy-handed thugs love beating on people and locking them up with NO trial and they do it anyway. Years later you have to prove yourself innocent, and then you might be let go but with no compensation and with a record. In other words, if those drones "see" something they're "suspicious" about, you're in deep doo-doo. I think they're trying too hard. People who want to hide evil activity know that drones are watching and they're smart enough to hide it. It's us ordinary good citizens who get the bad treatment of TSA, police, FBI, CIA, etc., while the real criminals do their evil.

Re:Yep, more of the same (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#39942875)

This ain't the cops, it's the air force, exactly how often is the air force accidentally spying on us?

Re:Yep, more of the same (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#39943309)

And if they are spying on you, even accidentally should they be allowed to immediately delete that information to hide the fact that they did it?

One can argue over the figure of 90 days a lot. But the airforce will accidentally or incidentally spy on people. Even if you take as lawful* 'surveying a natural disaster' they could capture images on the periphery of a disaster area which could count as spying. There should be some sort of policy or procedure in place to know what was seen, by whom, when.

*I have no idea if this is a point that would be taken for granted by I would guess *some* government agency will have the authority to survey natural disasters and the same basic premise applies to them.

Re:Yep, more of the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39942823)

Then you deserve this. Remember that when you are detained without reason or notice.

Re:Yep, more of the same (1, Insightful)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#39943055)

I'm sorry, if you think this is a threat to your freedom you are insane. There are so many other threats to your freedom you should worry about because they actually impact lives, this is more of a hypothetical what if issue.

So hypothetically if the Air Force saw something suspicious on portions of their surveillance that happened over the US then the Air Force would hand that information off to which ever law enforcement agency has jurisdiction. I don't see anything wrong with that.

Re:Yep, more of the same (4, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | about 2 years ago | (#39943395)

Jeng, you're talking to people who think that the Air Force, which currently is YEARS behind on the drone data it already has [wired.com] , now has nothing better to do than spy on Americans.

Furthermore, this is not even just anything that might be suspicious seen during operations. It's only "persons or organizations reasonably believed to be engaged or about to engage, in international terrorist or international narcotics activities," which is a very narrow scope under US law.

Cue the conspiracy theory: "But, but, but, the big bad Utah Data Center is going to mine this data automatically! The idea is to not need people to analyze this footage! The Air Force is going to blanket the nation in drones, and the NSA is going to analyze it all with computers! The exception for international terrorism and narcotics is just a subterfuge, a sleight of hand, to distract us from their true intent!"

Yes, people really think this. It would be amusing if it weren't so shameful and sad.

To say nothing of the US military satellite systems and manned US military aircraft that fly over the US every day, and have been used in civil assistance and force protection for decades. But hey, this is the slashdot comments section: facts and sense need not apply!

Re:Yep, more of the same (5, Insightful)

element-o.p. (939033) | about 2 years ago | (#39943547)

The 4th Amendment says that "We, the People" are free from unreasonable search and seizure without due process. Spying can be construed to be a "search." Therefore, the U.S. government is not allowed to spy on it's own people without due process. However, the Air Force now has a loophole that says, if you just happen to have a drone in the air near (a) person(s) of interest, and if you accidentally had the camera running while the drone was in the air, and just coincidentally happen to catch footage of something "interesting," you can keep and inspect that footage for up to 90 days without providing the due process that is required by the Bill of Rights.

In other words, they've just thrown out the protections afforded by the 4th Amendment (not that they've haven't already been watered down and defecated upon already with things like the Patriot Act, NSL's, NSA wiretapping and TSA, but I digress). It doesn't take much imagination to see how this could lead to all sorts of abuses.

I rather suspect that it will become S.O.P. to fly drones with the cameras "accidentally" left on, if it isn't already.

Re:Yep, more of the same (4, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | about 2 years ago | (#39942615)

Are Americans going to tolerate this? Post 9/11, probably.

The only thing I find more disturbing than questioning if Americans are going to "tolerate" shit like this, is the grand delusion some people are under that Americans can actually do anything about it anymore.

You act like We have a say. Wake up.

Re:Yep, more of the same (2)

Rob Kaper (5960) | about 2 years ago | (#39942733)

You act like We have a say. Wake up.

There is no Berlin wall surrounding the USA. You are free to leave.

Countries like mine (Netherlands) would be happy to have skilled workers from the western world.

Re:Yep, more of the same (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about 2 years ago | (#39942855)

You going to put up the money for me to break my lease, transport my furniture, new living situation, new job, etc?
Moving is not free, if I got those offers outside the US, I'd accept them in a heartbeat.
There's a reason our country does everything in their power to keep us all broke, the second I can afford to get out, I'm gone.

Re:Yep, more of the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943015)

In other words: the corporate overlords have you by the balls.

Re:Yep, more of the same (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#39943153)

So the sacrifice isn't worth it to you. That just says that you will, in fact, put up with the current amount of shit.

Most likely there's some point at which it would be enough and you'd actually look into leaving - work out which places you can get a visa for, check job markets, arrange for shorter term leases, etc, etc.

At some further point you might be willing to just abandon all your stuff, overstay a tourist visa somewhere or work illegally on a non-work visa.

But clearly as of right now, you will put up with it.

Re:Yep, more of the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943295)

Sacrifice? Try surviving/living. It not nontrivial to find a job overseas, assuming that person can even deal with the cultural differences and language. Between living on the streets and living under "oppression" that you don't directly see, the choice is fairly obvious. But that even assume they can afford the plane flight in the first place. WIth many people living paycheck to paycheck, can't is literally can't. Many people can't afford to choose their jobs, and leases here in the US are NOT negotiable usually. Some people can't even manage to get passport. Obviously, some people can manage, but many others simply can not.

There is also the issue in that, there is NO place on earth that's perfect. You move out of state only to deal with a different set of problems, or worst, the same problems.

Re:Yep, more of the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943173)

Amen. I'd love to go work in Europe. The GPs country used to have (possibly still is, haven't looked in a while) one of the best ratings for quality of life. I'd be happy to learn the language, pick up my stuff, and fly out tomorrow if I didn't stay so broke all the time.

I've been an IT professional for years, own a house (jointly with the bank) and have no problems paying my bills. However, I don't have much extra after all that is done. Hey Rob, where do I send my resume?!!?

Re:Yep, more of the same (1)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | about 2 years ago | (#39943181)

You going to put up the money for me to break my lease, transport my furniture, new living situation, new job, etc?

Well, you get the job first. But relocation expenses for skilled workers are fairly common, even within the US.

That said, I don't buy that we don't have a say. These types of things are happening because literally half the country is in favor of it. The conservatives (not the libertarian conservatives, the other guys) believe we need to take these actions in order to protect the country for terrorism. If you see something the government is doing which actually has negligible support among the population, then you can say we don't have a say. There's really not much of that going around, so the blame still lies with us.

Re:Yep, more of the same (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#39943613)

If it's so bad sell your furniture and move the day your lease expires.

But frankly, if you don't have the skills to get you a job that pays enough in the US that you can afford to leave, don't be hopeful about finding work (and therefore getting immigration) with the rest of us. Canada and Australia are tremendously fortunate we have oil and metals respectively, the Europeans are saddled with layers upon layers of political stupidity leading to tremendous economic uncertainty. The one things we all want are skilled labourers, but if you're one of those in the US you can afford to leave. Or should be able to if you know how to manage your money.

If you're going to emigrate *from* india or china or the like the US wouldn't be at the top of the list on places to move to. But if you're in the US your options on where you can go, if you can't be successful in the US, are very limited.

If you actually really honestly want to leave you need to both apply for immigration and apply for work in your target area first. The problem is that here for example you have to say that you are 'not presently eligible to work in canada'. Once you can get immigration status you can actually move there, or at the very least get a reasonable prospect of getting a job. But I hate to break it to you, if you have a shitty pay nothing job in the US, you'll end up an only marginally less shitty job elsewhere. Sure, you'll get more vacation time and healthcare in europe, you'll get healthcare in canada or australia, but you'll still have low pay and low mobility.

If you have skills, someone will pay to move you happily, even within the US. If you don't have skills we don't want you.

Re:Yep, more of the same (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | about 2 years ago | (#39943447)

There is no Berlin wall surrounding the USA. You are free to leave. Countries like mine (Netherlands) would be happy to have skilled workers from the western world.

One person leaving isn't an issue. Mass immigration/emigration is not well tolerated by anybody though...except certain countries that are looking for a cheap, non voting, slave workforce and those countries seem to be going to great lengths to ignore the problem.

Re:Yep, more of the same (1)

ewieling (90662) | about 2 years ago | (#39943453)

When GWB was re-elected I investigated both Canada and the Netherlands as places to move to.

Unless you have a degree neither country wants you.

Re:Yep, more of the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943681)

A CDL will probably get you into Canada.

Re:Yep, more of the same (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39942835)

You do have a say, but that require long term thinking and courage.
Courage to vote third party.
Courage to have a grass roots movement that can channel a new political view and gather consensus.
Courage to change the 2 party system you have right now.
Courage to repel citizens united etc...

In other words you lazy obese americans need to become acquainted AGAIN with political activism from the ground up.

Re:Yep, more of the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39942869)

You act like We have a say.

The people hold everything needed to fix the problem. But it takes work and discomfort and it's easier to be slowly smothered than fight your way out of a sealed bag.

The majority of the sheeple would rather just post the occasional bit of a whine in a forum and forget about it. They lack the balls to actually do anything about it.

Personally, I just like to sit far form Amerikka and watch the country slowly kill itself. It's ghoulish, but quite a reality show.

Re:Yep, more of the same (4, Insightful)

Scarred Intellect (1648867) | about 2 years ago | (#39942979)

You act like We have a say. Wake up.

We do. Voting.We got ourselves into this mess and we perpetuate it by voting for the same sort of morons over and over again. Purge the system. Vote every incumbent out. Never vote for politicians again, we don't need politicians in government, we need true leaders who understand industry.

You're part of the problem with that attitude, that helpless, infantile view of not being able to do anything about it. Unfortunately, most of America shares that point of view, which is only a problem because most of America shares that point of view, which is only a problem because most of America shares that point of view...

Do something. Write letters to your senators. To your congressman (and to be politically correct, to your congresswomen). Call them. Don't vote for the status quo. Let people know you are standing up for what is right. They just need to see someone doing something, because most of America is a flock of sheep. They don't know, nor care, about the issues plaguing their life because, like a poster said below, they can't be bothered, 'Dancing with the Stars' is on.

Do something, and be public about it. Perhaps I have a naive point of view of it, but it's better than rolling over and giving up. At THAT point, you have lost everything. When you've given up, then all hope is lost. America hasn't given up, not quite yet.

Re:Yep, more of the same (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#39943473)

we don't need politicians in government, we need true leaders who understand industry.

Interesting. Can you name, say, three real people, that you consider to be "true leaders"?

Re:Yep, more of the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943597)

I think it would be more effective to vote out the worst half. All the others would get the message.
If you vote out everyone then they don't know how to change.

Re:Yep, more of the same (2)

mmaniaci (1200061) | about 2 years ago | (#39943689)

...we need true leaders who understand industry.

So more industry shills... meet the new boss...

Unfortunately, most of America shares that point of view, which is only a problem because most of America shares that point of view...

That's because its usually the case. I can't even count the number of times I've called or emailed Feinstein, yet she's still off in her own world. I can count the number of times I voted for her: 0.

Let people know you are standing up for what is right

And they usually just pass us off as idealistic soapboxers. Try explaining net neutrality to any random person. They'll laugh you off the sidewalk and into the gutter with the anarchists and birthers before you get past "common carrier".

Perhaps I have a naive point of view of it, but it's better than rolling over and giving up.

INCREDIBLY naive. Money runs politics, and most money is in the hands of very few people. Until money is out of politics, or the distribution of wealth gets even (hahahahaha) we're fucked. Voting only makes a difference when the candidates aren't pre-selected.

Re:Yep, more of the same (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#39943713)

We do. Voting.

LMFAO. Stay the way you are, man. The rest us us will keep laughing. Its all part of the plan. Soo as the FFA allows drones anywhere those things will be 1984 helicopters, buzzing outside people's windows. You'll be able to turn the telescreen down, but never off.

Re:Yep, more of the same (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | about 2 years ago | (#39942993)

I agree completely. None of us voted on this. Other than living with it my choices are


1. Say f*it and leave the country for some other slightly less Orwellian state. Considering that there are more government owned security cameras than people in the UK, it surely isn't there.

2. Convince several million other like minded individuals to turn off American Idol and consider voting for a party that will revoke this stupid crap, which incidentally is neither Democrat or Republican.

3. Join the NRA and with their lobbyist support convince congress that I have a constitutional right to install a SAM battery on my lawn.

Re:Yep, more of the same (2)

daveschroeder (516195) | about 2 years ago | (#39943261)

What's disturbing here is that people think that standard procedures designed to prevent unauthorized collection, and address it if it occurs, is really intended to be a secret way to constantly spy on Americans for no reason.

Keep in mind that the courts have repeatedly upheld that visualization of a person or an exterior area from an aircraft does not constitute a search. Also, the exceptions here are for INTERNATIONAL terrorism and INTERNATIONAL narcotics trafficking, two things that have a very specific meaning under US law and military doctrine. I know people will immediately say something like, "But InfoWars told me that DHS has declared anyone with an XYZ bumper sticker might be a terrorist!" or "Some guy smoking a joint in his yard could now get busted by a drone!" but that's not what international terrorism or narcotics means.

So given that the whole function of such UAS in American airspace is routine civil assistance and nothing nefarious, you're really telling me that if a drone did happen to see "persons or organizations reasonably believed to be engaged or about to engage, in international terrorist or international narcotics activities," that you think it's just a fab idea to do nothing about it? More in my other post [slashdot.org] .

Re:Yep, more of the same (2)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 2 years ago | (#39943639)

People have these fears for precisely the reasons you specified.

Because the courts repeatedly find in favor of the government regarding searches, expansion of authority, and general 'oops we sent a swat team to the wrong house but we thought it was the right house so we arent culpable for shooting you' cases.

If the government was shown to actually respect the limitations on its authority, you would have a point.

Re:Yep, more of the same (5, Insightful)

nrambo (2635589) | about 2 years ago | (#39942699)

we cant be bothered with worrying about the violations of our civil liberties, 'dancing with the stars' is on...

Your comment is ironic... (4, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | about 2 years ago | (#39943185)

...considering that the reason that mitigation and minimization procedures exist in the first place is to address and prevent abuse, or accidental or improper collection, not encourage it.

I would also point out that the US has manned aircraft which fly over the US all the time, many with sophisticated ISR capabilities — and which have similar sets of processes to prevent improper uses.

I would also point out that the military and intelligence agencies like the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency aid law enforcement and civil authorities all the time, e.g., for things like natural disasters and wildfires — this includes planes, space assets, and yes, even drones.

The reason the procedures and processes discussed in this article exist in the first place is precisely to prevent unauthorized or improper use.
The idea isn't to say, hey, everything is an "accident", so we will look at anything, all the time (as some people here will no doubt believe). The idea is that IF data on US Persons is obtained improperly, it should be deleted — unless it involves "persons or organizations reasonably believed to be engaged or about to engage, in international terrorist or international narcotics activities."

In DOD-speak, INTERNATIONAL narcotics and terrorism means something very specific. It doesn't mean the Air Force or anyone else is going to blanket the US with drones, and use provisions designed to PREVENT improper activities as an excuse to "accidentally" spy on Americans.

That people believe this is somehow a secret plot designed to let the Air Force, of all things, spy on Americans for no reason, is a very sad thing to me. This may come as a surprise to you, but many in the US military and the government actually take their obligations to the law, the Constitution, and to the people of the United States seriously.

If your next question is, "If they take it seriously, they wouldn't be letting this happen!!" I would direct you to re-read my post more carefully.

Re:Yep, more of the same (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39942705)

Yes! They are going to send a multi-million dollar drone to monitor your comic book habits!

Wooooooooooooo!

STFU, geek filth. No one gives a shit about you.

President McCain strikes again (5, Funny)

Kohath (38547) | about 2 years ago | (#39942483)

They told me this would happen if I voted for John McCain for President. And they were right!

Re:President McCain strikes again (0)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#39942645)

Could be worse. If McCain / Palin had prevailed, drones armed with high powered rifles and a six pack of Bud lite would be flying all over the country shooting rabid 'wolves'.

Would be a bad time to be a furry.

Re:President McCain strikes again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943337)

So if McCain was president, I'd be able to get a 6 pack of Bud air dropped to my house? I knew I voted for him for a reason!

The military can do whatever it wants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39942497)

Look, if there's something even remotely shady that the military wants to do, it can just mark it Secret or higher. This story should surprise nobody.

Re:The military can do whatever it wants (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39942811)

Nope, that's a "people really do go to jail for that" level felony. The article also deliberately evades the rest of the intel oversight mechanisms. Waht you should realize is that, in an effort to prevent any problems, we are required, by federal law, to purge all stored imagery from the US within 90 days. Yes, that does mean disk caches, and there's quite a bit of discussion about whether swap files need to be deliberately wiped.

Well If They Want To Watch... (3, Funny)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | about 2 years ago | (#39942501)

I guess I need to start having (gay) sex on my deck again.

Re:Well If They Want To Watch... (4, Funny)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | about 2 years ago | (#39942805)

True story: I knew a guy who was married to his horse. Not legally, of course, but there was a ceremony and everything. He had a twelve-foot-high privacy fence around his backyard so that nobody would complain about his and his bride's consummations. Which, in Missouri in the 1980s, were perfectly legal.

Except they lived near an Air Force base...and every so often a helicopter would fly low overhead, then stop right over his property. The pilot would watch for a while before flying off. There was nothing my friend could do about it (and nothing the Air Force could do to stop him, short of a missile strike), so he resigned himself to giving a free show two or three times a week.

Curiosity is in our species' nature. If our government is given the ability to invade our privacy then they will use it, if only out of curiosity.

Re:Well If They Want To Watch... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943161)

Odd that your horse marrying friend wasn't familiar with the concept of a barn. It's a lot like the fence he had but enclosing a smaller area and with a roof.

Re:Well If They Want To Watch... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943653)

The poor horse. The Air Force pilots should have called the SPCA.

NIT (4, Informative)

iluvcapra (782887) | about 2 years ago | (#39942557)

"Spy on American Citizens for 90 days" != "retain footage of American Citizens for 90 days"

They can accidentally spy on you indefinitely, or rather, spontaneously whenever you might fall within the vantage of the camera. They can only keep the video for 90 days.

Re:NIT (4, Interesting)

bob8766 (1075053) | about 2 years ago | (#39942799)

Yeah, this would go over really well in court:

Lawyer: So How did you obtain this footage?
Drone Operator: We accidentally left the camera equipment on when we took off from American soil
Lawyer: How many times has this happened?
Drone Operator: Several, in fact I think it happens most times when we launch
Lawyer: What disciplinary action have you received for leaving them on?
Drone Operator: None. I think I read something once that says we aren't supposed to, but out commander tells us to do it anyway

At this point it's pretty obvious that it wouldn't be a case of "accidental" espionage (Disclaimer: IANAL)

Re:NIT (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943083)

Yeah, this would go over really well in court:

Lawyer: So How did you obtain this footage?

Drone Operator: We accidentally left the camera equipment on when we took off from American soil

Lawyer: How many times has this happened?

DOD: We cannot divulge such information for national security reasons

FTFY

really? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39942627)

Does it really matter? The amount of effort required to look into ONE person in footage is huge. Stop being so paranoid everyone. If they looked at footage of me they would see a guy walking down the street..WOW. sometimes I think people are concerned over things like this far to much. Just live your life and chill out!

Re:really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943053)

I really hope youre kidding.

You're the person standing there as the building falls down around them saying PEOPLE RELAX its not as bad as it looks!

Newsflash: It is every bit as bad as it looks, and then some.

Re:really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943093)

OH NOES! Not video of someone in public! How could anyone do such a thing!?

It's (maybe) innocuous now.... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943205)

Does it really matter? The amount of effort required to look into ONE person in footage is huge. Stop being so paranoid everyone. If they looked at footage of me they would see a guy walking down the street..WOW. sometimes I think people are concerned over things like this far to much. Just live your life and chill out!

It's (maybe) innocuous now but in the future it will be abused somehow. Slippery slope and all that - just look at the TSA.

And the other thing is this: the military or the rest of the Government should NOT be spying on American citizens - period. WTF, dude!

Here we (as a people) are saying "Oh, it's not THAT bad." whenever our Government tramples on our civil liberites. And then they take a little more. And we say again, "It's not THAT bad." and they take even more.

Add in the Right Wingers who think Civil Liberties are pinko hippy Liberal values and you have this water covered icy slipery slope headed towards an oppresive society.

All you need is one grunt (a guy with a badge and gun) to dislike you for whatever reason and your life is Hell.

And it gets worse higher up. It really disgusts me that the FBI treated Martin Luther King as a goddamn terrorist. They watched him, they kept a dossier on him, they bugged his phones, and god knows what else - all because he was fighting INJUSTICE in our society. Sure he committed some misdemeanors in his protests, but to be treated and monitored that way? I DON'T THINK SO.

That's the mentality of the grunts (people with badges and guns) - you're a criminal if they don't like you.

And you have no problem with this monitoring?

Shame on you.

Re:really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943343)

The concern isn't that they can catch you doing something. The concern is, unlawful tracking is against the law. I'm pretty sure it falls under Amendment 4, requiring any type of tracking to be covered by a warrant.

My concern is, the US military has no operational jurisdiction inside US borders except in designated areas (bases). Only the National Guard, which are state operated militia, can operate within the US border. Accidentally recording swaths of land outside of their jurisdiction is a clear violation and should have some form of punishment for the guy who accidentally hits the record button (I'm sure it's a hell of a lot more complicated than just one guy and one button).

Re:really? (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | about 2 years ago | (#39943487)

The amount of effort required to look into ONE person in footage is huge.

Which is why facial recognition software is so popular. It's not hard to imagine that technology being coupled with other technologies and AI to make it possible for them to have computers sift through all that data for the juicy bits (which could be forwarded on to a human op for final review).

Re:really? (2)

element-o.p. (939033) | about 2 years ago | (#39943711)

First, a drone can also capture footage of you in your yard, behind the eight foot high privacy fence that you thought would keep prying eyes out. At least if they were spying on you from an airplane, you'd have a good chance of seeing and/or hearing the airplane as it approached. With a drone...not so much. Second, as far as the average American goes, you are right. They aren't going to follow all 300 million or so of us 24x7 in the hopes of finding something juicy. However, if they have a *reason* to be interested in you -- and keep in mind, that does not necessarily mean "if you are a bad guy"* -- then it might be worth their time and effort to sift through the footage looking for something useful.

*A couple of tin-foil-hat ideas, right off the top of my head:
1) a well-known activist: they follow you and collect information on where you go, who you meet, and then harass the people you have been seen associating with, or perhaps just add them to a list of "suspicious" people for more investigation.
2) a senator or representative who isn't friendly to DoD budget requests: again, they follow you and look for things (prostitution, drugs, etc.) that they can use to blackmail you into voting for a better budget.

I had an epiphany (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 2 years ago | (#39942629)

There's an extent to which the bill of rights can't properly be applied in the modern world, and we've addressed that by allowing certain variations of things to be allowed(e.g. High yield explosives, and chemical weapons don't count as arms for the second amendment). We should rewrite the thing and actually put into the constitution the things we think are protected and the ones we don't.

That's the only way this is getting better. And since Americans consider the constitution, and the bill of rights in particular, to be the divine word of god, we won't fix it.

We've allowed too much of the changes to our rights be by fiat instead of acknowledging them in the constitution.

Re:I had an epiphany (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | about 2 years ago | (#39942931)

There's an extent to which the bill of rights can't properly be applied in the modern world, and we've addressed that by allowing certain variations of things to be allowed(e.g. High yield explosives, and chemical weapons don't count as arms for the second amendment). We should rewrite the thing and actually put into the constitution the things we think are protected and the ones we don't.

It sounds like what you're saying is that if judges were given less lattitude to interpret things (you know, actually judging based on the constitution and laws as written), we'd find reason to fix those things. So, if judges were to claim that high yield explosives and chemical weapons were "arms" since they are used as such, overturning all sorts of laws in the process, the actual constitution would be open for update on a regular basis again?

Sounds bloody. And sounds like a great idea. Except that we're just as prone to end up with a constitution that does not protect citizens' attempts to protect themselves both from each other and from the government.

Re:I had an epiphany (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#39942937)

> We should rewrite the thing

Are you kidding? Look at the state of American politics today. Do you REALLY think what you would get would be an improvement?

> to be the divine word of god

The fact is since 1787 every other democracy has been cribbing bits from it. None have made any real improvements.

Re:I had an epiphany (4, Insightful)

hierofalcon (1233282) | about 2 years ago | (#39942981)

The founding fathers would have allowed the citizens to have Abrams tanks, F22 Raptors, or other modern weapons of war fully fueled and armed, parked at their farm or street if such technology had been available. They would have been fine with high yield explosives and any other weapons of war that were likely to be used against them by an enemy. Few could afford them today, but being permitted to have them was their clear intent. That's why they added the second amendment. Since a "militia" might be needed at any time to oppose foreign enemies or their own government (that inconvenient revolutionary war against their British government thing everyone forgets about in this day and age), the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

They'd just fought that wonderful war that led to the creation of our country. Think they would have been successful if they were armed with bow and arrows and shotguns and the British had modern weapons as the hunting weapons only crowd would mandate today? Of course not. They wanted their citizens to be fully armed with modern weapons to keep the government in place and to be able to repel any invasion that might come up.

Our creation of standing military forces wasn't in the plan, but even so, only might protect us against outside forces and not against the government itself. That is if they aren't all off on some foreign military base or doing some peace forcing action in a foreign country when the home turf gets attacked.

Re:I had an epiphany (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | about 2 years ago | (#39943633)

Ok guys, let's suggest a crowd funding project - how about we all pool our beer money and buy a small third world nation to hand over to the libertarians, right-to-bear-arm-nutters and all the other lovely people posting their brainfarts around here. Only condition - we get drone overflight rights to record a livestream of the hilarity than shall certainly ensue.

What is the point... (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#39942697)

of a spy drone that does not have the any spy equipment on and in which you cannot retain some of the footage?

Excuse me, Mr. President.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39942725)

... but how exactly are you any different than the previous boss you blame everything on?

Re:Excuse me, Mr. President.. (1)

arkane1234 (457605) | about 2 years ago | (#39943591)

Easy answer, he's not ordering this.
He had as much to do with this as Manuel Noriega had to do with a taco stand in Tijuana.

I can accidentally "spy" with a camera too (5, Interesting)

StevenMaurer (115071) | about 2 years ago | (#39942735)

If I'm in a public setting, I can pull out my camera and take a picture, "spying" on anything in its viewfinder. This is 100% legal. I can also "spy" by taking a photo out of an airplane. Police can do this as well. Out west, we have airplanes which monitor traffic to see if you are vastly exceeding the speed limit, being a "spy" to see how fast you are driving. They even post signs that they do this.

It isn't strange that our military also has the authority to take footage. What is strange, and wonderful, is that our military removes this footage after 90 days. I have many pictures of all sorts of places, with images of fellow tourists accidentally being "spied" on in them. I am keeping these photos forever.

(Note: YMMV. Certain conservative State legislatures are trying to make it illegal to record police, so as to allow the police to cover up any of their criminal acts; however I am confidant that these laws are destined to eventually be fully overturned by the courts.)

I fail to see how this is in any way a terrible thing. The outside is a public setting. Always has been.

Re:I can accidentally "spy" with a camera too (2)

garcia (6573) | about 2 years ago | (#39942949)

Because the military is not supposed to take action on citizens. We have other enforcement divisions tasked with that sort of thing.

Re:I can accidentally "spy" with a camera too (1)

Jeng (926980) | about 2 years ago | (#39943193)

And what makes you think the Air Force is going to come to your door and arrest you?

They would just hand the information to which ever law enforcement agency has jurisdiction and you would go though the regular courts.

Re:I can accidentally "spy" with a camera too (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943005)

"If I'm in a public setting, I can pull out my camera and take a picture, "spying" on anything in its viewfinder."

Try that outside an oil refinery and see what happens.

Re:I can accidentally "spy" with a camera too (3, Informative)

Mousit (646085) | about 2 years ago | (#39943049)

.... It isn't strange that our military also has the authority to take footage. ....

The reason why it's a notable thing is because the military, in fact, doesn't have the authority to take footage. Right at the top of the article (but this is Slashdot, so no one read it) it's pointed out that the military, like the CIA, is not supposed to perform surveillance of citizens on domestic soil.

They're using weasel-words to try and loophole around that block, and it's this type of skirting action that should always be made public and pushed against. Checks and balances, watching the watchers, that sort of thing.

Re:I can accidentally "spy" with a camera too (1)

mally_wally (2635623) | about 2 years ago | (#39943579)

We should just issue those sleep-time eye-covers for all military personnel that are on US soil so they don't accidentally see anything related to US citizens while here and talk about it within earshot of any superiors or report it. We should also confiscate all photo-recording equipment of families that might have military personnel, as they might see something that was taken outside by one of their family members.

Problem solved!

Re:I can accidentally "spy" with a camera too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943135)

Other wavelengths like infra red lenses mean that they actually can see inside your house. Remember when you spied on your neighbours with infrared and night vision tech? No? Oh... shit... seems the gov has a little heavier tech than you do when you take pictures at the beach.

Remember when you were able to use your photos to build a case against someone you wanted taken down? No? Funny... because the government uses their footage for those reasons all the time.

Your reasoning is as vapid as your understanding, and as naive as your trust in the almighty, infallible government entity

Re:I can accidentally "spy" with a camera too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943421)

I have many pictures of all sorts of places, with images of fellow tourists accidentally being "spied" on in them.

Did you use a high-powered camera with night/thermal vision and a parabolic mic?

I fail to see how this is in any way a terrible thing. The outside is a public setting. Always has been.

How about in your backyard, surrounded by a high fence - is that "public"?

It isn't strange that our military also has the authority to take footage.

It actually is kind of strange... the military doesn't typically have the authority to act as a police force within the nation's boarders (there are other branches of government for that).

Another Wired Non-story (5, Informative)

dwillden (521345) | about 2 years ago | (#39942795)

This not some amazing new discovery. It's called Intel Oversight. All Military intelligence under under these same rules. We are allowed to collect only in accordance with an assigned mission. Said mission cannot be to simply go out and watch of follow or collect on random or even specific citizens. What is allowed is if during authorized collection we come across information about a possible US citizen we are allowed 90 days to review to determine if A: The person is indeed a US Person (legal status and yes US Corporations qualify and did before the famous court ruling that the /. crowd hates so much). And if so B: is there reason to collect and retain the info. This is usually a no but there are certain categories of activities that would allow collection to go forward and the information to be retained in official intelligence reporting.
Now about applicability. In the US the military is required to assume, lacking other information to the contrary, that anyone we run across is a US Person and thus most likely cannot be collected on. So don't worry, they aren't going to start flying "accidently" across the states filming your backyard activities. We'll leave that to the Jackbooted thugs in the FBI and local PD's. Outside the US the view shifts 180 degrees and we are to assume, again until we get some evidence to the contrary, that any individual we run across is NOT a US Person. But should we collect info on someone and they then turn out to be a US person, we are again given the 90 Window to determine if they are in fact a US Person, and if they are engaged in one of the legally specified activities that allow or even mandate collection and reporting on them. Some examples of these categories would be anyone engaged in espionage for a foreign power, anyone actively involved with a declared terrorist group. (not just someone we think "looks like a terrorist."

And regardless of whether they are involved in collectible activities or not any and all collection on US Persons is reported not just up the military channels but also the DoJ and the CIA. People do lose rank and intelligence positions over violation of the Intel Oversight rules. All military intelligence personnel are briefed on Intel Oversight at least annually.

The poster of this story really has no idea what he's talking about. This is a non-story and it's really nothing new. And once again Wired tries to write about the Intelligence community possibly doing wrong but just proves how little their reporters actually understand things.

But I'm sure the /. geniuses will let me know how wrong I am, even though they have zero experience with this realm.

Re:Another Wired Non-story (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39942893)

Come back when you have some experience with reality. When have these departments EVER stuck to their word? Red tape is barely holding them in check as it is, and you say "don't worry! this is normal"

THANKS!!!! I'm glad that you feel the abuse of power is normal. I hope you enjoy the next 20 years, son.

Re:Another Wired Non-story (2)

Scarred Intellect (1648867) | about 2 years ago | (#39943095)

I didn't read your comment, just your subject: Another Wired Non-story

I like it. I wrote this for a college assignment. Probably inaccurate, but I wanted to see what I could get away with in the course:

Assignment: 1. The death of the web http://www.onthemedia.org/2010/aug/20/the-death-of-the-web/ [slashdot.org] Summarize the directions that commercial use of technology is moving to provide content, away from the open, free web.

I followed the link to http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/08/ff_webrip/ [slashdot.org]

The article focuses on users' widespread use of specific and specialized apps to retrieve internet content and dramatizes the difference between “web” and “internet.” This latter distinction is, in my opinion, entirely incorrect, as the world wide web, though often now not being used by a browser, is still a world wide web in that it is a web of networks that covers the world; much like the internet is a larger network connecting smaller networks. There is no difference between “web” and “internet.”

The article makes a big deal out of the fact that most data transmitted over the internet is no longer “the web” which it declares as HTML and data seen in web browsers, but, typical of Wired, it takes a naive point of view and understanding of root concepts and technology (Example: first paragraph; almost all of those are NOT necessarily apps, but can in fact be checked from a web browser, and it does not indicate any sort of decline of the web). In my opinion, people don't generally understand technology and try to dramatize what is new in order to impress others with their cutting edge knowledge; Wired epitomizes this.

Commercial use of technology, in the scope of this article/assignment, is moving content to dedicated apps/services whereas in the past it used to be up to the user to find such things via a web browser. Services such as Netflix, games such as World of Warcraft, specific apps to check specific services such as Facebook and WSJ, media streaming via Flash or otherwise embedded formats are taking away from what the author considers to be the open web, and bringing specialized data to specialized apps that are specifically requested by users. This is in comparison to the “open web” where a user used a non-specific app (web browser) to find the content they sought. The only real difference is ease of use; if a user wants to only check Facebook (on a mobile device, the article often leaves this subtle yet significant distinction out), they need only to launch the Facebook app, which has much less overhead than a full web browser which allows it to launch quicker, saving them the time of the full web browser launch, and navigating to Facebok; Bam! It's already up. It's like having a different browser shortcut, each with it's own homepage to whichever service the user is seeking.

But it is still an open and free web. There are options that simplify the enormity of the web, and the largest example of this is Apple and the Walled Garden analogy: their iPhone/iPad model is that you have THEIR hardware using THEIR software or software THEY approve for YOUR web-browsing experience, limiting the openness and liberty of the world wide web in return for simplicity for the user. Will this trend continue? Yes. Is it the death of the internet, or web? Absolutely not. People still go home and check E-mail and research on the web using old-fashioned web browsers, not their iPhones or iPads. The web is not dead, it is simply more widespread and used in more and different ways than in years past.

Compared to Domesic Law Enforcement use... (2)

Lashat (1041424) | about 2 years ago | (#39942829)

this is trivial and a non-issue. Why "accidently' leave the camera on and go off charter when this occurs
http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/12/21/2037251/domestic-surveillance-drones-on-the-rise [slashdot.org]

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/01/24/0410221/domestic-use-of-aerial-drones-by-law-enforcement [slashdot.org]

Even in UK.
http://tech.slashdot.org/story/10/01/26/1645232/uk-police-plan-to-use-military-style-spy-drones [slashdot.org]

Let me know when I can buy one at Toys R Us.

in all cases it's longer than 90 days!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39942839)

Read the pdf. This section

11.2. Collection. Information about US persons may be collected if it falls within one or more of the thirteen categories of information specified in DoD 5240.1-R, Procedure 2. 11.2.1. Information is considered “collected” only when it has been received for use by an employee of an intelligence component in the course of official duties. Data acquired by electronic means is “collected” only when it has been processed into intelligible form. 11.2.2. Temporary Retention. Information inadvertently received about US persons may be kept temporarily, for a period not to exceed 90 days, solely for the purpose of determining whether that information may be collected under the provisions of Procedure 2, DoD 5240.1-R and permanently retained under the provisions of Procedure 3, DoD 5240.1-R. If there is any doubt as to whether the US person information may be collected and permanently retained, the receiving unit should seek advice through the chain of command, Judge Advocate General (JAG), or IO monitor. The unit/MAJCOM IO Monitor must provide assistance in rendering collectability determinations. When appropriate, assistance may be requested from AF/A2. A determination on whether information is collectible must be made within 90 days. 11.2.2.1. If a determination is made that information is not properly collectible before the expiration of the 90 day period, it must be purged or transferred immediately. 11.2.2.2. Even though information may not be collectible, it may be retained for the length of time necessary to transfer it to another DoD entity or government agency to whose function it pertains.

So does this mean the RAW footage can be kept forever? as it says " Data acquired by electronic means is “collected” only when it has been processed into intelligible form."

The Air Force doesn't bother me. (1)

seanzig (834642) | about 2 years ago | (#39942871)

I really don't see them passing on their incidental footage to anyone else, such as Homeland Security, local law enforcement, etc. Despite what the conspiracy theorists will say, these government agencies aren't exactly known for working well together. There's already too much data for national security analysts to process to add what little bits and pieces the USAF might pick up in the course of their regular work.

The 2nd-to-last paragraph of the article was more bothersome for me - the idea of local law enforcement flying drones around a city.

Possible scenario (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 2 years ago | (#39942967)

Say a military drone is tasked with border security. On the way to the border it is much safer if the pilot can see where he is going so has the cameras turned on. He happens to see a crime going on. What should the pilot do? Ignore it as he is not supposed to be watching Americans or report it and pass the recording on to the police?
All video from a drone is saved. All this is doing is clarifying that video taken in the US must be destroyed after 90 days. Why 90 days? Maybe because it gives time for police to request the video if they are investigating crime that might have been recorded by the drone.

So THAT'S... (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 2 years ago | (#39943061)

... where all those Hollywood sex tapes come from.

Seriously, guys, you need to zoom in once in awhile and do a better editing job before dumping this stuff on the internet. Your production values are slipping...

what can we do to mess up drones from the ground? (1)

mapkinase (958129) | about 2 years ago | (#39943187)

Now the question is: what can we do to mess up those drones from the ground?

Oaths (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 2 years ago | (#39943663)

I assume every person who joins the US military still has to swear an oath with a bit about 'protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic... immediately following that, are they then ordered to ignore it, or do they do that all on their own?

Maybe the brass then just launch into the fate of Bradley Manning as a teachable moment...

soo.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39943699)

..Guilty until proven innocent?

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