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FBI Admits To Domestic Surveillance Drone Use

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the seeds-of-the-panopticon dept.

Privacy 207

An anonymous reader writes "At a hearing today before the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI director Robert Mueller confirmed the agency is using unmanned drones for surveillance within the U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley asked, 'Does the FBI own or currently use drones and for what purpose?' Mueller replied, 'Yes, for surveillance.' Grassley then asked, 'Does the FBI use drones for surveillance on U.S. soil?' Mueller said, 'Yes, in a very, very minimal way, and seldom.' With regard to restricting the use of drones to protect citizens' privacy, Mueller said, 'It is still in nascent stages but it is worthy of debate and legislation down the road.' According to article, 'Dianne Feinstein, who is also chair of the Senate intelligence committee, said the issue of drones worried her far more than telephone and internet surveillance, which she believes are subject to sufficient legal oversight.'"

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FBI also admits . . . (5, Funny)

sgt_doom (655561) | about a year ago | (#44052371)

....they have been unable to locate his body with all those drones they've been using.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2013-06-19/drones-are-used-domestic-surveillance-fbi-director-admits [zerohedge.com]

Re:FBI also admits . . . (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | about a year ago | (#44052385)

I mean Jimmy Hoffa's body, as they once again called off another of their infamous digs!

Re:FBI also admits . . . (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44052455)

I mean Jimmy Hoffa's body, as they once again called off another of their infamous digs!

They dug in the wrong spot, he's really burie

s zxio

[NO CARRIER]

Re:FBI also admits . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052453)

Citing ZeroHedge doesn't help your case any.

Why not? (5, Insightful)

Optimal Cynic (2886377) | about a year ago | (#44052387)

Why shouldn't they use drones? They use surveillance helicopters. This is just another method of doing the same thing.

Re:Why not? (4, Interesting)

Applekid (993327) | about a year ago | (#44052415)

Why shouldn't they use drones? They use surveillance helicopters. This is just another method of doing the same thing.

Because we all would like to think "slippery slope" is a logical fallacy and not a human certainty.

Re:Why not? (1)

Optimal Cynic (2886377) | about a year ago | (#44052465)

Yes, but where does the slippery slope lead to? It's an airborne camera - either you allow them or you don't.

Re:Why not? (5, Insightful)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year ago | (#44052515)

let me put on my tin foil hat for a second here

what happens when they can develop swarming nanobot flying insects with cameras and microphones on them that dont need to charge and are attracted to noise. always swarming above peoples heads and fully autonomous.

let me take off the tin foil here. now this is clearly pushing it but if we say that drones are ok then it is possible - nay probable that they will work on something along the lines of my tinhattary.

Re:Why not? (5, Insightful)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#44052873)

Yes, but where does the slippery slope lead to? It's an airborne camera - either you allow them or you don't.

It's an airborne wide-spectrum camera, sometimes with parabolic and laser microphones.

People don't tend to have an issue with the helicopters because they're big, noisy, expensive, and take a number of people to operate. Thus, you're only going to deploy them when it's really necessary, and everyone in the area knows it's deployed. Compare that to drones, where you don't know how many there are, where they are, how much information they're gathering, who they're gathering it for, etc.

We haven't even got to the questions yet of the legality of knocking a drone out of the air -- we know the rules for helicopters.

Basically, there's a lot of "undefined" areas surrounding how drones integrate with our current society, and as such, there are a lot of potentials for abuse based on those gaps.

Re:Why not? (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#44053273)

Yes, but where does the slippery slope lead to? It's an airborne camera - either you allow them or you don't.

It's an airborne wide-spectrum camera, sometimes with parabolic and laser microphones.

People don't tend to have an issue with the helicopters because they're big, noisy, expensive, and take a number of people to operate. Thus, you're only going to deploy them when it's really necessary, and everyone in the area knows it's deployed. Compare that to drones, where you don't know how many there are, where they are, how much information they're gathering, who they're gathering it for, etc.

We haven't even got to the questions yet of the legality of knocking a drone out of the air -- we know the rules for helicopters.

Basically, there's a lot of "undefined" areas surrounding how drones integrate with our current society, and as such, there are a lot of potentials for abuse based on those gaps.

Exactly -- it's the same argument against warrantless tracking of cell phones. Some would say "Well tracking your cell phone is no different than sending a team of agents out to track you all day", which is true if you ignore the cost and inconvenience of sending teams of agents to track millions of people. It's the same thing with drones - the government is going to very judiciously use a 5 million dollar helicopter to spy on someone, and we'd all notice if they were sending thousands of them to track thousands of people. But when they can use a $50,000 (or $5000 or $500) drone, then the barrier to entry is much lower, so they may track many more people with much less justification.

And it becomes easier to target people based on politics or other non-criminal reasons. It'd be hard for the mayor to call up the chief of police and say "Hey, I'm going to face some real competition in the next election, can you have one of your boys track my opponent and see if you can dig up some dirt", there's a lot of people and paperwork involved in allocating a week of helicopter time. But when the city has several dozen drone units and surveillance is common place, then the chief can call his buddy in the drone unit and say "Hey, I'll give you a case of beer if you can watch this guy for a week".

Re:Why not? (1)

Artifakt (700173) | about a year ago | (#44053057)

The first drones used in military situations were unarmed. Drone use in actual combat dates back at least to WW2, but they were confined to serving as targets training or photo-recon uses. In the 1980s, Iran deployed an armed drone (fitted with 6 RPG-7 grenades for payload). While technically functional, the Iranian design did not see much use and may not have been very effective in the eyes of field commanders. Eventually, the US started deploying armed designs, most probably beginning with the Predator in the 1990s. (The US has had separate drone programs under the Military and CIA control for close to fifty years, and all public claims about the primacy of the Predator program must simply assume there is nothing still in many, many, relevant classified documents which contradicts them).

That's the big twofold greasy slope:
1 - if you allow unarmed drones for police or other civilian organizations, does that mean they will eventually want to deploy armed ones?
2 - if civil deployment is abetted and probably even managed by prior experts from the military and CIA, will they act under a veil of secrecy imported from those same sources?

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052491)

Because "drone" is a big scary word.

Re:Why not? (1)

Anonym0us Cow Herd (231084) | about a year ago | (#44052703)

If 'drone' is such a big scary word, then why are meetings over represented with both marketing drones and management drones?

Re:Why not? (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44052513)

Why shouldn't they use drones? They use surveillance helicopters. This is just another method of doing the same thing.

Presumably because it's a markedly cheaper, easier, and quieter method of doing the same thing: Given the.. er... 'robust' state of law enforcement oversight, your major protection from any given investigative method is that it's a pain in the ass and/or expensive, and you aren't worth the effort. Reduce the effort, and you increase the number of people who are worth the effort.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052523)

For the reason reason that using cameras to record people's license plates is different from sitting on the curb and writing them down yourself. I'll let you use your brain to figure out the differences.

Re:Why not? (0)

Baby Duck (176251) | about a year ago | (#44052767)

If it's legal to do the latter, you can't make it illegal to do the former, just because it has more throughput. Heaven forbid government would want to actually do something efficiently and accurately for a change. We'd have to come up with new anti-government jokes!

Re:Why not? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052853)

If it's legal to do the latter, you can't make it illegal to do the former

What are you smoking? The government is supposed to answer to We The People, so of course we can.

It makes a big difference whether it's automated or not.

Re:Why not? (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | about a year ago | (#44053155)

If it's legal to do the latter, you can't make it illegal to do the former, just because it has more throughput.

You can and should. The balance of police surveillance is maintained in part by the expense and inefficiency of conducting it.

If the efficiency of an aspect of law enforcement is greatly improved, that will shift the balance.

And it is right and appropriate to restore the balance. Not necessarily by prohibiting the new technology, but by imposing stricter limits on when it is used, or by shrinking the surveillance budget so that they can conduct the same level of surveillance they could before, but a fraction of the cost. Or shift the surveillance budget to putting more cops walking the beat.

Society doesn't necessarily want "more surveillance". And just because the cost has come down isn't a valid reason to increase it. That surveillance has become more efficient is great... now lets do the same level surveillance we did before, and use the money freed up for something else. Lowering taxes. More beat cops. Dusting for fingerprints at break ins. Improving response times for emergencies. There all kinds of things the police are perpetually saying they don't have enough money for... if they can replace 5 helicopters with 5 drones and free up a bunch of money for something ELSE do that. But replacing 5 helicopters with 50 drones is just silly.

Re:Why not? (4, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year ago | (#44052555)

Why shouldn't they use drones? They use surveillance helicopters. This is just another method of doing the same thing.

I kind of agree on this.

I'm not saying I'm all for high-surveillance and I DO acknowledge things are just getting Orwellian every day.

But that ship has sailed. We're already caught on dozens / hundreds of camera just on our way to work every day: bank, traffic, speeding, surveillance, helicopter, etc.

So now they want to put more up there... I'm not really against that. So long as they stay "up there" and aren't hovering outside my 2nd-floor window to see what I'm up to in the privacy of my own home. But watching the areas outside? Fine. Heck if they want to see a beached whale sunbathing on a balcony they can pass over my house while I give them the-bird. But for them to see the public spaces, easily get decent high-res bird's-eye views of critical events / crimes / etc? Meh

Again, that's probably not a popular opinion on slashdot and I'll get modded down. And I realize the old saying about security and freedom... I'm just saying it's just yet-another-camera out there, and cheaper and quicker-to-deploy than a helicopter. Except the keyword "Drone" makes it scary.

NOW... if they arm the flippin' things (even with non-lethal ordinance) or they say it's cool for them to check out the inside of buildings' windows then it's alllllll over.

Re:Why not? (1)

SJHiIlman (2957043) | about a year ago | (#44052635)

But that ship has sailed.

The situation is already bad, so why not just make it worse?

Re:Why not? (4, Insightful)

cfulton (543949) | about a year ago | (#44052763)

Why shouldn't we put cameras on every street corner? Then we could catch all the Jaywalkers. Why shouldn't we put a microphone in every confessional? Why shouldn't we put cameras in every room in every home. We would end domestic violence once and for all!!

We have to put hard limits on the massive interference with citizens private affairs and lives in place now. The we have already started down the slippery slope. Those in power only need to trot out the TERRORIST boogeyman and the SAFETY boogeyman to get the public to allow seemingly any intrusion into their lives. If we don't start fighting back now we will find that we cannot stop them when they start wiring up out homes in the name of stopping domestic violence or whatever boogeyman they use.

Re:Why not? (4, Insightful)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#44052813)

It's a well known fact that crime is a sign of society's shortfalls. Most people commit crime for a reason, few do it for the thrill (there's some). Now, building drones costs money, wouldn't that money be better spent fixing society's ills. There is no need for the government to watch us. They need to work on making us as great a society as possible and fixing problems (seems we need to watch them though.. drones all around the whitehouse!). These drone would just focus more on catching criminals then fixing whatever drove the person to commit the crime. Everybody should be able to see how this drones to catch criminals approach can quickly spiral out of control.

Also, LEO's aren't your friend, they'll do anything to get a conviction and advance their career, some are good, but most don't have a working sense of justice. Even google is more of a friend to you.

Re:Why not? (2, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | about a year ago | (#44053193)

It's a well known fact that crime is a sign of society's shortfalls. Most people commit crime for a reason, few do it for the thrill (there's some). Now, building drones costs money, wouldn't that money be better spent fixing society's ills. There is no need for the government to watch us. They need to work on making us as great a society as possible and fixing problems (seems we need to watch them though.. drones all around the whitehouse!). These drone would just focus more on catching criminals then fixing whatever drove the person to commit the crime. Everybody should be able to see how this drones to catch criminals approach can quickly spiral out of control.

Also, LEO's aren't your friend, they'll do anything to get a conviction and advance their career, some are good, but most don't have a working sense of justice. Even google is more of a friend to you.

The goal of the powerful is not to stop crime altogether, it's to stop crime from exceeding certain rates that will interfere with the continual farming of the citizenry. The crime that remains is there to scare them away from voting you out.

In short, it's a balance between making sure just enough people get murdered for us to say "hey, there are murderers out there, pay me more taxes!" but not so many that the GDP starts going down.

Re:Why not? (4, Insightful)

tiberus (258517) | about a year ago | (#44052611)

That's sorta like saying sending a woodpecker or a Hind to pester someone is just another method of doing the same thing. It's rather easy to detect a helicopter, their big, kinda noisy and have to stay several hundred or more feet off the ground. It's a lot harder to detect a Predator, or one of the even smaller drones and I've never seen a helicopter that can fly into my backyard.

Re:Why not? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#44052765)

Ah the old "effective loss of privacy due to advances in technology and lower costs is acceptable" mindset...

I've tried the "old way analogy" on this and it hasn't worked so far. Police cars following every car, and a police lookout nest on every lamppost are analogous situations that have been deemed acceptable before by those who hold this mindset. I don't supposed police helicopters swarming all over the place all the time would bother you either?

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052993)

I don't think it's a problem with any specific technology, be it helicopters, drones, or internet snooping, it's how surveillance is carried out and how it is targeted. We must demand that surveillance of any kind is only conducted on targeted individuals in response to a search warrant and not used as a dragnet to catch anyone commenting any crime.

Re:Why not? (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about a year ago | (#44053121)

Perhaps because the helicopters are manned and the drones aren't. [wikipedia.org] Sure you can argue someone is piloting the drone but your accuser still wasn't present when you did whatever it was you are accused of doing was did.

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44053137)

Read my words: AU-TO-MA-TI-ON!
*Covert* automation!

In other words:
1. Doing it on a *massive* scale.
2. With the victims barely noticing it.
3. With *zero* useful results.

The purpose of the whole thing is not to improve safety, but to *worsen* it. By constantly harassing people by staring at their every move, and so taking their freedom and creating an insane risk of being "Gitmo'd", in terms of "If you give me six minutes of video of the most honest man, I will find something to Gitmo him."
Any yes, that includes helicopters whose purpose is surveillance. Saying they already do it never has been a valid argument, now has it?

It's as if you never even remotely understood the concept of a computer. Then again, you apparently are a proud "Twitter" user. So that settles it. :P
You got no competence to speak on the subject. And hence you open your mouth more loudly [youtube.com] .

Re:Why not? (3, Insightful)

delcielo (217760) | about a year ago | (#44053177)

We've seen where even helicopters can be abused, using thermal imagery, etc. to see into places where they really have no business seeing. Drones are quickly evolving and will exacerbate such problems. We've seen how the warrant process is bypassed or ignored, now imagine drones small enough to see every space you occupy, and autonomous enough that nobody is even providing oversight into what they're recording or observing until after the fact.

Helicopters require effort and cost, and so there is some incentive for their operators to dispatch them only when there is a good cause. Small cheap drones won't have even that barrier.

Re:Why not? (1)

Bugler412 (2610815) | about a year ago | (#44053231)

Air traffic safety rules is one obvious example of "why"

Re:Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44053287)

Why shouldn't they use drones? They use surveillance helicopters. This is just another method of doing the same thing.

Begs the question, why should they use helicopters, doesn't it?

Re:Why not? (1)

daniel.garcia.romero (2755603) | about a year ago | (#44053293)

Why shouldn't they use drones? They use surveillance helicopters. This is just another method of doing the same thing.

Because, as a citizen in this brave new world (therefore, as everyone else, an enemy of the state), I can't use my drones against them. The objetive of using drones (read spying with drones) is to know who I am, where I am, what I am doing and why I am doing it. They justify it with this: If you have not done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear. If you think superficially, you may find nothing wrong with that, since they say: to have 'security' you must sacrifice some liberty. But if you think carefully you will see the trojan horse that is this new surveillance state they are 'selling' to us:

Who says what is wrong? I'm sure it's the same people 'selling' the surveillance state to us.

And what is wrong? You may ask yourself: Is terrorism wrong? Is robbery wrong? Is rape wrong? Sure bet! But... is pointing at corruption wrong? Is disagreeing with the state wrong? Is reporting white collar crime wrong? Good luck for you if they think these things are wrong (surprise surprise, they already think it's worse than wrong, it's treason!).

And yet you still may think: well, at least I have my security! That's until the day you need security and realize they are too busy chasing the proper 'wrong doers' to help you.

This post is trolling for goverement dissenters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052401)

Now you're on a list for drones to monitor!

Re:This post is trolling for goverement dissenters (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44052517)

Now you're on a list for drones to monitor!

Watch, it's not the type of drones you expect - you are suddenly set upon by telephone sanitizers, account executives, and marketing analysts.

Don't try to shoo them away to another world, for all you know someone may catch a disease from a dirty telephone.

Stocks rising... (1)

lymond01 (314120) | about a year ago | (#44052409)

...in crowbar manufacturing.

Y'know... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44052429)

I thought there seemed to be a large rise in RC Model clubs around here suddenly.

De-bullshitted translation (5, Insightful)

TWiTfan (2887093) | about a year ago | (#44052441)

'It is still in nascent stages but it is worthy of debate and legislation down the road.'

Translation: We do whatever the fuck we want with them. Fuck the Constitution

Re:De-bullshitted translation (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052543)

Which part of the Constitution do you think prohibits the government from flying in public airspace? Why on earth would they be allowed to do it with manned surveillance vehicles, but not with unmanned ones?

Re:De-bullshitted translation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052647)

Well, I'm pretty sure the 4th Amendment protects the airspace outside of my windows, in my backyard, on my roof, etc.

Re:De-bullshitted translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052797)

A 12 gauge shotgun also works well.

Re:De-bullshitted translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052677)

Which part of FBI director Robert Mueller's testimony that what they're doing regarding citizen privacy is "worthy of legislation" did you not understand? If he thinks what they are doing is worthy of legislation, you can pretty well bet that it is; no tin foil hat required. Basically all privacy issues with regard to government result from the tension between the fourth amendment and what the government wants to do. That's the constitutional connection you're missing.

--fyngyrz
anon due to mod points

Re:De-bullshitted translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052713)

Please read up on the difference between police, military and intelligence services.

Re:De-bullshitted translation (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44052755)

True, the 4th Amendment to the Constitution only protects us from against unreasonable searches and seizures, and requires a warrant for most searches. The word "unreasonable" has been slowly leveraged by the courts over the decades to allow all sorts of impromptu searches by Police [nyclu.org] .

But there was no aircraft when the 4th was penned, and had their been, I seems that the practice of using an aircraft for police observation would certainly have been curtailed.

The use of a manned aircraft to search your property brings with it immediate and obvious notification. Its big and noisy and expensive, the pilot has to pee once in a while meaning it could never be continuous, with or without a warrant.

But with small, reasonably quiet battery operated drones, you can park it outside someones apartment window, and watch what is going on inside, useing thermal imaging, remote sound recording, and full motion video, and you can do this 24/7 using a couple of devices that cost less than $5000 each. And you can do it without a warrant, because you are not actually entering the premises.

If your conscious allows you to sneak that sort of activity in as being "not unreasonable" you probably have a career opportunity at a three letter agency.

"Invites debate and legislation down the road" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052457)

"We know this is dumb and illegal, so we're going to do it until someone passes a law that says not to."

Re:"Invites debate and legislation down the road" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052889)

An old adage says "that which governs the best, governs the least and the closest to the people". That has been ignored by the porkers at the top and their supporters keeping them there, which of course are those profiting from the pork. The US Government needs weened from its aphabet soup pig slop.

"Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer."--Thomas Paine, Common Sense [ushistory.org]

Way too much unnecessary evil coming out of Washington these days, elsewhere too.

Of course they barely use them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052463)

Drones are a LOT more expensive to use than simply remotely activating the mic and camera on someone's phone (a feature which ALL smartphones support, even when they are turned off).

They don't need to use drones to monitor us because we already bought and carry around the remote monitoring hardware.

Re:Of course they barely use them (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44053157)

Drones are a LOT more expensive to use than simply remotely activating the mic and camera on someone's phone (a feature which ALL smartphones support, even when they are turned off).

Would you care to present your electrical engineering degree, then explain how this is possible? How about measuring power consumption and probing for activity around the radio circuits? If electrons are moving, there's no way to hide it. Oh wait, you don't know how to do that, do you?

A drone is just a light aircraft with a camera (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052473)

Ooooh, lookit the scary drooooone! For fuck's sake, people, we do not have to buy into hysterical rebranding of bog-standard technologies. It's a fucking camera on a fucking light aircraft. ZOMFG, the FBI is using CAMERAS! ZOMFG, they are putting the scaaary cameras on LIGHT AIRCRAFT! Are you scared yet??? Cameras! On aircraft! I bet nobody ever fucking thought of putting a camera on an aircraft before. This changes everything!

Re:A drone is just a light aircraft with a camera (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#44052587)

Cameras that carry 5-mile range missiles [wikipedia.org]

Re:A drone is just a light aircraft with a camera (1)

lightknight (213164) | about a year ago | (#44052847)

Ah, the cyberwar makes sense now. The government wants to pre-emptively remove anyone from the population who has the skillset to override the drones, and turn them back on their controllers. With no one alive to disable those things if the powers that be decide to...exercise their culling capacity...well, this makes sense now, doesn't it?

Re:A drone is just a light aircraft with a camera (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about a year ago | (#44052895)

Those only fit on Predator (MQ-1) and Reapers (MQ-9), they can't put missiles on light surveillance drones

Re:A drone is just a light aircraft with a camera (1)

Applekid (993327) | about a year ago | (#44053243)

Those only fit on Predator (MQ-1) and Reapers (MQ-9), they can't put missiles on light surveillance drones

Guess they'll just have to settle for the lighter 2-mile range missiles.

Re:A drone is just a light aircraft with a camera (3, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about a year ago | (#44053377)

And you still can't mount a Griffin (AGM-176) on a light surveillance drone.

The vast majority of drones owned by the Feds, law enforcement and military are sub-20 pound things like what Seattle PD tried.

Seattle PD used 3.5-pound Draganflyer X6 six-rotor helicopters

Re:A drone is just a light aircraft with a camera (1)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | about a year ago | (#44052965)

Ever heard of targeted killings of Americans using drones? http://www.cfr.org/counterterrorism/targeted-killings/p9627 [cfr.org] The thing about helicopters is there is a pilot that you can shoot back at if your life is in jeopardy. And of course, the government never gets it wrong do they? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/06/AR2007090601386.html [washingtonpost.com]

Re:A drone is just a light aircraft with a camera (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44053031)

You all are asking the wrong questions. I said they were doing this type of thing a long time ago. I was told to tighten my tinfoil hat. Funny, because it seems that every Orwellian conspiracy that gets discussed and dismissed as "bat shit crazy" only months later comes true and is then accepted. All the slippery slope comments being meaningless because it is spoken of in terms of something we don't want to get on while we slide down it at ever increasing speeds...

The problem isn't that it is unmanned or manned, or whether it is legal. A manned craft takes a man to do it and be paid. An unmanned craft can provide 24 hour coverage of as many places as they want. You really want to live there? You want to live where they watch everything you do all the time? Save the "if you don't do anything wrong then what's the problem?" crap. Who the hell wants to live where you are being watched all the time? And if you think that isn't where we are headed then I don't know what to tell you.

Think about it (2, Interesting)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#44052481)

If the FBI had drones in 1992, they would have launched a hellfire missile and killed the entire Weaver family. And it would have been blamed on a gas leak and covered up.
If the FBI had drones in 1993, they would have launched a hellfire missile at the Branch Davidians and killed all of them. The FBI would have blamed the Branch Davidians and said they committed mass suicide.

We would have never known the truth.

Re:Think about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052549)

If you think the only thing holding back government coverups is a lack of remote-controlled airplanes, you're both naive and cynical. They could certainly do the coverups if they wanted to, but apparently, there's no INTENT.

Re:Think about it (4, Interesting)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#44052639)

Never said it was. With drones in the skies, the FBI doesn't even need to bother with a siege or coverup. It makes their ability to get away with murder even easier than before.

They can just launch a drone in Chicago, fly it over to Idaho, and blow up anybody's house. Nobody would know about it, no witnesses, and most importantly, a drone with minimal radar signature and no recorded takeoffs in the area (remember, these things can fly for 36 hours). Only 1 person even has to know the mission, the person behind the joystick.

Let's hope so (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#44052483)

Let's hope that it is for surveillance only, because next thing you'll learn those drones have machine guns and missiles on them.....

NSA, taking your money and then your privacy and then maybe more of your money and your freedom and life one step at a time.

Re:Let's hope so (3, Interesting)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#44052571)

What they do not tell you, is that the same mount points underneath the wings used for fuel tanks can be changed to carry missiles in a matter of minutes. So even those "civilian" drones have the capability in 20 minutes to be sending hellfire missiles to the ground.

Re:Let's hope so (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052607)

You might be downvoted, but this is the exact course that US UAVs took in the middle east. We were assured they were for reconnaissance only until they weren't.

Before some wise guy says it (5, Insightful)

freeweaver (2548146) | about a year ago | (#44052499)

It does not matter whether its a suprise to you or not. The point is to be outraged by people snooping on you without your knowledge. Thats very VERY creepy don't you think?

If not, then I guess you won't mind me coming over to your house, climbing a ladder and peeping through your bedroom window, right?

Please think about the ramifications of letting this kind of thing happen without any oversight. this is not the government being stupid. It is a governemt that wants to have ever more control over your everyday life. Do you want that? Think real hard now please. Because I can't name one single authority in history that has gained even half of the control the US government has, without it turning VERY NASTY!

Re:Before some wise guy says it (2)

simonbp (412489) | about a year ago | (#44052561)

And how is this any different from the FBI using aeroplanes or helicopters or cars?

For all the armwaving and hysteria about drones, they aren't a fundimentally new technology and are not without copious legal precident.

Re:Before some wise guy says it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052743)

And how is this any different from the FBI using aeroplanes or helicopters or cars?

It's cheaper than planes, drastically cheaper the copters. While it's more expensive than a car, it can see you can't see from the ground. Sure it's legal, but as areal surveillance, gets cheaper and cheaper, we will spend more time being watched. I don't want to be monitored by the government every time I leave the house even if it is legal and not unprecedented.

Re:Before some wise guy says it (2)

freeweaver (2548146) | about a year ago | (#44052783)

aeroplanes, helicopters, cars, *and* Drones

you see the difference? There are now *more* ways to snoop on people then before. That means more oportunities to gather data from a different viewpoint.

In other words, the problem is now worse.

Please tell me you understand

Re:Before some wise guy says it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052833)

One word: Cost.

"aeroplanes", helicopters, cars, etc all require significantly more maintenance than drones. Additionally they require pilots/drivers who must be paid for their time. These drones fly with minimal supervision, are much cheaper to purchase and operate, and hence will be used in situations where using a manned surveillance vehicle would be cost-prohibitive.

Re:Before some wise guy says it (2)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year ago | (#44052855)

And how is this any different from the FBI using aeroplanes or helicopters [...]

Expense. Airplanes and helicopters have to be heavy and powerful enough to transport people. Therefore, the initial expense, fuel, and maintenance costs will always be higher, placing a greater practical limitation on how much surveillance one can conduct. This causes a law enforcement agency to have to prioritize its surveillance, acting as a natural check against an all-seeing, all-intrusive security-state and requiring that they focus on areas where they might have reasonable suspicion.

[...] or cars?

Again, expense. To have eyes on a suspect you must pay the man whose eyes are employed. (Plus, the people in that car would need a warrant before stepping onto my property.) Again, this forces an agency to focus their use of resources. As the cost of drones decreases, and as their surveillance activities are increasingly automated, the ability to watch and record everything becomes a practical possibility. This is a fundamental change.

Re:Before some wise guy says it (1)

http (589131) | about a year ago | (#44052917)

In case you haven't noticed, the USA has already turned very nasty.

What oversight? (5, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#44052521)

'Dianne Feinstein, who is also chair of the Senate intelligence committee, said the issue of drones worried her far more than telephone and internet surveillance, which she believes are subject to sufficient legal oversight.'"

What oversight? Maybe she is in the inner circle that knows what is going on with the NSA but that is hardly what I would call oversight. A (mostly) secret program with secret directives overseen by a secret court with secret findings is not what I consider adequate oversight. There is no means by which the public will ever be informed of the findings of the surveillance and thus there is no possible way for the public to know if their rights are being compromised or if laws are being broken.

With regard to restricting the use of drones to protect citizens' privacy, Mueller said, 'It is still in nascent stages but it is worthy of debate and legislation down the road.'

Meaning the FBI is doing whatever they feel like until someone tells them to cut it out. Apparently the FBI thinks oversight means spying on us from the sky.

Re:What oversight? (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about a year ago | (#44052689)

What she meant to say was that they are subject to sufficient SECRET legal oversight.

The plebes don't care anyway, they are watching TV.

Re:What oversight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052909)

You missed another fact: Feinstein doesn't have to be worried about telephone and Internet surveillance because congress is exempt from it (unless they are specifically being investigated by the FBI.) On the other hand if you can fly a drone over her mansion, her personal privacy is violated.

Re:What oversight? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44053107)

You missed another fact: Feinstein doesn't have to be worried about telephone and Internet surveillance because congress is exempt from it (unless they are specifically being investigated by the FBI.) On the other hand if you can fly a drone over her mansion, her personal privacy is violated.

The same way Feinstein wants to ban guns at the same time she'll be keeping hers and her armed guards, thank you very much.

Where do I expect privacy? (5, Interesting)

Intropy (2009018) | about a year ago | (#44052525)

See, this drone thing doesn't really bother me. When I'm out and about I expect my actions to be public. If a drone is monitoring a private residence or business or following someone to one I think a warrant ought to be required (subject to the normal hot pursuit exceptions). But if you're monitoring some public area, no big deal. The internet and telephone surveillance on the other hand is a complete invasion of an area where I expect privacy and am guaranteed it by the constitution.

Re:Where do I expect privacy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052739)

Does it concern you that the head of the FBI disagrees with you? He's the one who said legislation is called for, when asked about privacy issues. The implication I take away from that is that you, or at least I, should be bothered, if he's telling congress that they should be bothered... and that's exactly what he's telling them.

--fyngyrz
anon due to mod points

Re:Where do I expect privacy? (1)

Intropy (2009018) | about a year ago | (#44052883)

Yes it bothers me that the head of the FBI disagrees with me about the telephone and internet monitoring. That's illegal, full stop.

Re:Where do I expect privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44053073)

How can they get their rocks off over breaking the law to "protect the law" if they can't get a law passed making their methods illegal?

Re:Where do I expect privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052789)

See this is exactly my issue that you say you are okay with. The problem is that you don't care. You don't think twice about the limits of Government and their involvement in your everyday life. You should care about your Constitutional Rights because when you don't care, this is what happens.

Re:Where do I expect privacy? (1)

Intropy (2009018) | about a year ago | (#44052943)

No, you have that wrong. I do care. I do think twice. I thought about this particular usage and conclude that I do not have a problem in principle with drones being used to monitor areas. I certainly think they, like other technologies, could potentially be misused, and I would seek to prevent their misuse. But I do not think that they are a problem in and of themselves.

Re:Where do I expect privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052859)

But, but... DRONES!!!

Hmmm, evidently you're not terrified of the word. Let's make it scarier: Autonomous Surveillance Flying Death Machines! BOO!!! Still not scared? Still prefer privacy on the Internet over privacy in public space? Well, you're clearly a terrorist then...

Re:Where do I expect privacy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052881)

>The internet and telephone surveillance on the other hand is a complete invasion of an area where I expect privacy and am guaranteed it by the constitution.

lol. Very funny!

Re:Where do I expect privacy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44053019)

Maybe it's not privacy we expect, but the ability to be forgotten. I think most of us are OK with police on the street seeing what they see, but there's something disturbing about the fact that our actions are recorded for as long as the records are kept. There's also the fact that this data can be labeled, stored, and searched without end. Say I'm at a political rally against a party I don't agree with. When that party wins, they can use the data on that rally to know that I disagree. Perhaps they can't legally do things to make my life worse, but there are subtle ways to abuse this power that are in a legal gray area. I want the right to have my history fade away and to know that any thing that I've done in the past will fade with time. I don't want to be immortal on a disk somewhere.

Re:Where do I expect privacy? (1)

SJHiIlman (2957043) | about a year ago | (#44053041)

But if you're monitoring some public area, no big deal.

Wrong. Having government surveillance devices everywhere is an awful thing whether or not they're in public places. It is foolish to expect that they wouldn't abuse such powers.

Re:Where do I expect privacy? (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about a year ago | (#44053185)

If a drone is monitoring a private residence or business or following someone to one I think a warrant ought to be required (subject to the normal hot pursuit exceptions). But if you're monitoring some public area, no big deal.

Public areas are bounded by businesses and private residences, so I don't really see the distinction. Drone sees all. Might come into play if you own a lot of acres, but a court ruled that cops can even install cameras on larger land holdings without a warrant. Strange how privacy was supposed to be a restriction on the government, but it ended being a restriction on us.

Anyway, this is a relief, I've been following you around for the past 6 months, and was starting to feel guilty, but now I know it's OK... as long as I stop sleeping under your bed (though it obviously doesn't bother you so what's the problem?!).

'America' Is The Next Afghanistan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052533)

Every City Police Department and Mayor are boon'n for Drone !

This will certainly 'clean' up the FBIs killings in the near future, like about next week.

Only by court order *each* use and for how long (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44052539)

Any other definition will become blurred into total surveillance. Some guy on the most wanted list for 10 years could be used as an excuse for a drone hovering over your town 24/7.

Re:Only by court order *each* use and for how long (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052687)

Some guy on the most wanted list for 10 years could be used as an excuse for a drone hovering over your town 24/7.

Honestly, so fucking what?

Re:Only by court order *each* use and for how long (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year ago | (#44052961)

Why would an AC make such a comment?

So much contempt... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052573)

" it is worthy of debate and legislation down the road." Fuck, so much contempt in there: So he is the one who decides nowadays if something is worthy for legislation?

Our country's finest hypocrites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052641)

Dianne Feinstein is worried about this? I thought she had no problems at all with the citizenry being completely powerless against the government.

Eh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44052747)

What? A Democrat wanting larger Government for the larger Government created?

Times, they are a changin (5, Insightful)

Guru80 (1579277) | about a year ago | (#44052793)

It wasn't very long ago that all this massive spying on U.S. citizens would have caused an outrage and demonstrations of epic proportions....now I see all these "so what? I have nothing to hide" comments or other similar rubbish. It doesn't matter if we have nothing to hide, it's one small (or significant depending on point of view) step at a time to slowly gain your indifference until our kids and grandkids live in a total surveillance state with no expectation or right to privacy in anything they do. That is the ultimate goal, in the name of our safety of course...because obviously somewhere over the last 60 years Americans became completely incapable of not feeling safe if our Government isn't holding onto our hand while we cross the street. It's suppose to be the other way around.

Re:Times, they are a changin (5, Insightful)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year ago | (#44053179)

I would hazard a conjecture:

The current crop of citizens most interviewed by the media about this issue are in their 20s and 30s.

About a decade ago, pre september 11, those people would be in their teens and early 20s.

At that time, a goodly proportion of them would still be active participants in highschool, and coincidentally, this is also the time that the columbine high shootings occured. (1999) Even prior to this, the use of security cameras in hallways, classroorms, and commons areas in US highschools was on the rise. After the event, any question of if this was a good idea was summarily shouted down, amid personal accusations of endangering children.

It is now 10 years later, and the students subjected to the omnipresent institutionalized observation and invasion of privacy are now desensitized to the issue, and see it as just more of the same. The gravity of the situation is lost, as the cameras are not viewed as the threat to civil liberties that they truely are, but just another banal feature of daily life to be ignored.

I can't exactly prove this, but the effects of institutionalism on behavior should not be ignored. Just ask the folks at standford.

Remember when we had a constitution? (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44052923)

Good times.

Re:Remember when we had a constitution? (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#44053285)

I'll be saying that on my porch in about 40 years. Sipping on water, because alcohol is "bad for you" and my Obamacare would be cancelled if I drank. Waving to the drones flying overhead and flipping off the DHS agents who drive by my house every 17 minutes.

I am more alarmed that (1)

X-Ray Artist (1784416) | about a year ago | (#44052977)

1. Many people are not really bothered by this or the NSA's monitoring/data collection. The attitude of "I am doing nothing wrong so I have nothing to hide" seems to be the root of this one. 2. "Dianne Feinstein, who is also chair of the Senate intelligence committee, said the issue of drones worried her far more than telephone and internet surveillance, which she believes are subject to sufficient legal oversight." What is "sufficient legal oversight?" How much are we, the people, going to subjugate ourselves to our "government of, by, & for the people?"

they told me i was a fool. (1)

nimbius (983462) | about a year ago | (#44053141)

but whos laughing now, WalMart? that 10-for-$10 sale on tin-foil was a fools dozen....like taking candy from a baby.

Senator Feinstein would be wrong... (1)

Mister Mudge (472276) | about a year ago | (#44053221)

According to article, 'Dianne Feinstein, who is also chair of the Senate intelligence committee, said the issue of drones worried her far more than telephone and internet surveillance, which she believes are subject to sufficient legal oversight.'"

Secret FISA courts are not, in any way, "sufficient legal oversight" and really are no legal oversight at all. Our legal system is based on the idea that judicial proceedings are done in public to prevent abuse and violations of peoples' rights. The FISA court not only renders opinions in secret but even knowledge of the cases it hears are classified. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

They do not have my permission to use... (1)

3seas (184403) | about a year ago | (#44053277)

... the taxes I pay to violate my constitutional rights.

Oh America (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44053317)

How does it feel to know your country has been a police state for the last decade? To realize that wackadoos like Alex Jones are right? To sing your anthem at ball games hailing how awesome it is to be free, and that it was all hypothetically free? That every Memorial Day you celebrate that your country spends more on its military than the next 10 countries combined? To know that the only countries you have more freedom than are China, North Korea, Cuba, and Sealand?

The enemy is here. The enemy is you.

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