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Will Toys-R-Us Carry Spy Drones? 189

Posted by timothy
from the when-alabama-gets-the-bomb dept.
First time accepted submitter TomOfAmalfi writes "People are concerned about government use of domestic surveillance drones, but how is that different than what happens when people make their own drones, or buy them at a toy store? These units don't have the endurance or performance of the 'professional' models, but they can be useful and will get better. I can hear the police now when they realize the protesters are tracking them with toys."
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Will Toys-R-Us Carry Spy Drones?

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  • well duh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by peragrin (659227)

    An AR drone, a smart phone or tablet, a car battery and 500' of cable can be had for less than $1000 and give you a couple hours of continous run time.

    You can do it now if you want.

    • Re:well duh (Score:4, Insightful)

      by durrr (1316311) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @01:00PM (#38436374)
      Car batteries are Lead-acid. In case you missed Elementary Elements 101 then i can reveal to you that lead is heavy as fuck, as such car batteries have abysmal energy to weight ratio.
      Lithium polymer is where the money's at, but you'll still be hard pressed to achive hour long flight times. Some bird-wannabe thermal updraft gliders that can run motor on low or no could probably achive it on a good day, but if you're looking at helicopter/quadcopter style craft you'll probably not get much more than ~10 minutes with a decent one.
      There are of course fast charge batteries that you can forcefeed at ~10A or more(and drain at ~60), so with a handfull of spare batteries to keep charging while you're out flying you could probably manage to get quite decent total uptime.
      • by durrr (1316311)
        I see now that you mention cable. Well enjoy your slow as fuck drone with a 5 meter flight celing. Also enjoy riot cops homing in on your headquarters like a swarm of angry bees.
      • by Synerg1y (2169962)

        Hmm, just like in RV cars, gas is also an option I think, the weight tradeoff shouldn't be much worse than a battery, too lazy to look into the details though, seems to work great for the airforce though.

  • Barney Spy Drones (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nyder (754090) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @12:43PM (#38436120) Journal

    Yep, Barney, or Barbie Spy Drones. Can't wait.

    But seriously, tech can be used for good and bad, and while it can be used by the police, it's apparent that the same tech can be used by people also. I'm sure they will scream and bitch, but will the make it illegal for civilians to use?

    • by houstonbofh (602064) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @12:50PM (#38436224)
      Of course not. They would never make tech that police are using illegal for civilians. Like wiretapping, or guns. Just never... The problem for them is that this is much easier to make at home than a gun. (Although, guns are surprisingly easy to make, and if not rifled, they are legal in the US)

      Now I know I am on some watch list...
      • Re:Barney Spy Drones (Score:5, Informative)

        by i.r.id10t (595143) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @01:09PM (#38436464)

        Actually, you can make a rifle, pistol, shotgun, doesn't matter. As long as you don't violate teh NFA (no full auto, gotta get the tax stamp for SBR/SBS/AOW) you are good. And since the receiver (serial numbered part) is the "gun" by fed definition, that is all you need to make - slap a parts kit on it and you are done. Just can't make 'em for resale... Do a google for "80% receiver"

        • If the barrel is not rifled, it is not a gun under the federal definition. Cities, however, may have some restrictions, but most do not.
          • Re:Barney Spy Drones (Score:5, Informative)

            by Zcar (756484) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:57PM (#38438166)

            So shotguns aren't guns? BS.

            The only guns (common English) that aren't legally guns in the US are:
            * antiques from 1898 and prior or some replicas thereof
            * muzzle loaders designed for black power and cannot use fixed ammunition

            "Firearm" is defined in 18 USC 921(a)(3):
            The term “firearm” means
            (A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive;
            (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon;
            (C) any firearm muffler or firearm silencer; or
            (D) any destructive device. Such term does not include an antique firearm.

            "Antique firearm" is defined in 18 USC 921(a)(16):
            The term “antique firearm” means—
            (A) any firearm (including any firearm with a matchlock, flintlock, percussion cap, or similar type of ignition system) manufactured in or before 1898; or
            (B) any replica of any firearm described in subparagraph (A) if such replica—
            (i) is not designed or redesigned for using rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition, or
            (ii) uses rimfire or conventional centerfire fixed ammunition which is no longer manufactured in the United States and which is not readily available in the ordinary channels of commercial trade; or
            (C) any muzzle loading rifle, muzzle loading shotgun, or muzzle loading pistol, which is designed to use black powder, or a black powder substitute, and which cannot use fixed ammunition. For purposes of this subparagraph, the term “antique firearm” shall not include any weapon which incorporates a firearm frame or receiver, any firearm which is converted into a muzzle loading weapon, or any muzzle loading weapon which can be readily converted to fire fixed ammunition by replacing the barrel, bolt, breechblock, or any combination thereof.

            So, yes, smoothbore firearms are legally firearms.

            • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @03:28PM (#38438594)
              So 50 cal cap and ball then. Nice steampunk flair for the drone.
            • by i.r.id10t (595143)

              * antiques from 1898 and prior or some replicas thereof

              The actual gun (not the model, but the actual gun) must have been made before 1/1/1899 ... so while the 1898 Mauser was in production thru the end of WW2, and you can swap parts back and forth w/ no issues, only the ones actually made in 1898 count as non-guns. The replicas only count if they are either black powder (and thus non-regulated anyway) or use obsolete no longer available ammo (44 pinfire, 44 rimfire, 25 rimfire, etc)

              As far as federal licensi

              • I believe that this is the court case that this falls under [wikipedia.org]. A rather interesting read.

                • by Zcar (756484)

                  Very interesting, since part of the analysis suggest the only firearms protected by the 2nd Amendment are those suitable for military use. This would suggest, for example, full-auto M16s, FN MAG machine guns, etc. would be protected but target rifles might not be.

                  Any conclusions in it also need to be taken with a big grain of salt since Miller died before it reached the Supreme Court and his counsel presented no arguments. It's basically a default judgement.

              • by Zcar (756484) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @05:45PM (#38440558)

                I left out some details in what I wrote because I quoted the USC below which lays out the detail.

                As far as federal licensing goes, either you are a 01 FFL (normal FFL dealer), 02 FFL (pawn shop FFL), or 03 FFL (Curio & Relic, aka "crusty and rusty"). There are limitations on what each one can do, for example the 03 FFL (C&R) isn't for doing business but rather for a personal collection (and what is considered collectible is regulated). The stuff you hear about regarding NFA stuff (suppressors, short barrel rifles, full auto) isn't properly called Class 3 - there is just a SOT (special occupation tax) on a regular 01 FFL. And again, several levels of that - dealer, manufacturer/repair, importer, destructive devices, etc.

                Wonder what part of "shall not be infringed" this all falls under...

                Getting a little tangential here, but...

                There's more types of FFL than that:
                Type 1: Dealer
                Type 2: Pawn Shop
                Type 3: Collector of Curios and Relics
                Type 6: Manufacturer of ammunition other than armor-piercing
                Type 7: Manufacturer of non-National Firearms Act firearms and ammunition other than armor-piercing
                Type 8: Importer of non-NFA firearms and ammunition
                Type 9: Dealer in non-NFA firearms and NFA destructive devices
                Type 10: Manufacturer of non-National Firearms Act firearms, NFA destructive devices, and ammunition other than armor-piercing
                Type 11: Importer of non-National Firearms Act firearms, NFA destructive devices, and ammunition

                There are three classes of SOT for FFLs:
                Class 1: Importer of NFA firearms. Requires a Type 8 or 11 FFL $1000/year ($500/year for small importers)
                Class 2: Manufacturer of NFA firearms. Requires a Type 7 or 10 FFL $1000/year ($500/year for small manufacturers)
                Class 3: Dealer of NFA firearms. Requires a Type 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, or 11 FFL. $500/year.

                Generally speaking, NFA firearms are:
                * Fully automatic firearms (any not registered with the ATF prior to 1986 is not eligible for non-government/dealer ownership).
                * Rifles under 26" (66.04 cm) overall length or with a barrel under 16" (40.64 cm) long
                * Shotguns under 26" (66.04 cm) overall length or with a barrel under 18" (45.72 cm) long
                * Non-sporting firearms with a bore over 0.50" (12.7mm)/explosives (grenades would all into this category)
                * Sound suppressors/silencers
                * A somewhat nebulous category - Any Other Weapon

                Any NFA firearms not imported prior to the 1968 Gun Control Act are not generally legal for citizens (there are a couple of very small loopholes here). Any NFA firearm requires a $200 tax to be paid to transfer to a person or non-SOT or for a non-SOT to make EXCEPT an Any Other Weapon only has a $5 tax to transfer (still $200 to make).

    • by forkfail (228161)

      I can just imagine someone getting watchlisted over that...

    • by Dyinobal (1427207)
      Only the toys r us in iran will carry spy drones. Sorry.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Couldn't they just have a fleet of RC flying blimps to take their pictures?

    • by element-o.p. (939033) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:08PM (#38437368) Homepage
      Right now, it's illegal (per FAA regs) to use drones for commercial purposes. There [businessinsider.com] are [dailytech.com] reports [huffingtonpost.com] that someone has tried it anyway, but those who don't wish to draw the FAA's ire are waiting until the regs describing how and where drones can be used for commercial uses are finalized (expected some time in 2012, although that may be delayed with the recent arrest and subsequent resignation [washingtonpost.com] of Randy Babbit).
      • by robot256 (1635039)
        What about the dudes that take aerial photographs with RC helicopters for a living? And I'm pretty sure spying on the police for the sake of protestors is "non-commercial" activity.
        • What about the dudes that take aerial photographs with RC helicopters for a living?

          I don't know anything about them, so I'm not really qualified to answer. However, if they are using RC helicopters to do professional aerial photography in the U.S., my non-expert GUESS would be that they might not be in compliance with FAA regs. The biggest question in my mind -- and IANAL, so take this for what it's worth (i.e., nothing) -- is "does an RC helicopter qualify as a 'drone'?" or does "drone" imply some type of autonomous flight capability? If the FAA considers a remote

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @12:46PM (#38436160)

    Hot Wheels now makes a toy car that you can drive around and record video. It's only a matter of time before they (or another company) expands into video remote controlled planes. I'd love to fly an RC plane around a local park with my kids and then offload the video to show them what it looked like from the plane's point of view.

    • Some guy strapped a camera to his cat a while back. That's a solution if you can figure out how to train the cat.

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      The local 'liquidation store' was advertising an RC helicopter with video camera for about $50 on the front of their latest flyer.

      • by element-o.p. (939033) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @02:21PM (#38437578) Homepage
        I've got a Hawkeye Heli, which is probably similar to the one you saw (if it's not the same thing). It's fine indoors, but not so great outside. First, the RC controls operate via infrared LEDs. In the sunlight, the transmitter is swamped by the sun, making the heli uncontrollable (basically, it will climb to about 20-30 feet, spinning at ~60rpm the whole time, then cut the engine and plummet to the ground). Second, it's so light -- and only marginally stable -- that if there is even the slightest breeze, it's again uncontrollable. Third, the range is extremely limited, like 50 feet or less. Finally, the camera is rather poor. The frame rate is so low that the video blurs every time you yaw the heli, and in a year of playing with the heli, I can count on one hand the number of still photos that weren't blurred beyond recognition. It's a fun toy, but not something that is actually useful for anything. If you want a real covert surveillance platform, you'll need to spend at least an order of magnitude more.

        If I get a chance, I'll post some video from the heli on youtube and link to it here.
    • by Speare (84249) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @01:00PM (#38436372) Homepage Journal

      Don't fly in parks.

      There are "park flier" models that would be suitable for flying in a large and empty double soccer field sized space. However, adding cameras and other equipment can easily double the weight, which affects the flying safety.

      Responsible helicopter and airplane modelers go to reserved land areas to do their flying. There are serious injuries due to blunt force and propeller slicing every year. Deaths and permanent disfigurements are not unheard of. When these injuries happen to non-participants, it just invites tougher laws against unlicensed hobby flying.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        I have a neighbor about 5 houses down who flies his model airplane around the neighborhood. It's not a small one either. Wingspan is about the width of a car, and he lands it on the road. I also don't live in the middle of nowhere. It's a residential neighborhood in the suburbs. No tall buildings around, but there's houses everywhere. The police have given him quite a few citations from what I have heard, but I'm not sure what they can do about it.
      • I have a small battery powered (5 min flight time weighs about 3 ounces) RC helicopter and I fly it in the park behind my house but then I don't fly it when other are around. I have been to the part of the county park where people fly the real model airplanes and helicopters with a friend who is into model aircraft and I wouldn't want to be hit by one of those methanol powered ones.
      • by ftobin (48814) *

        Are there automatic safety mechanisms that could be designed to limit damage? Just using my imagination, but a model could be designed to automatically halt the propeller (or do something else) when too close to the ground unless the plane was specifically in takeoff or landing mode.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Umm...
      http://www.hobby-lobby.com/rc_video_cameras_363_ctg.htm [hobby-lobby.com]
      People have been doing it for years. I think the first RC airplane I saw with a "movie" camera was in Model Aircraft News around 1975. I was pretty young but if I remember it was a pusher with a twin boom tail with the Horizontal stabilizer carried on the tops of the vertical stabilizers.
      With the low cost electric foam aircraft available today along with cheap small digital video cameras it has become very common.
      Today you can add a camera to a pl

    • I'd love to fly an RC plane around a local park with my kids and then offload the video

      Here's an extreme version:

      http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2010/12/how-a-rc-airplane-buzzed-the-statue-of-liberty-with-no-arrests.ars [arstechnica.com]

    • I had Christmas with my family this past weekend. My brother had gone to Walmart upon arriving in town and purchased an RC helicopter with a video camera. It wasn't a live stream but it did record. The only problem was it was cheap and had died before I even arrived. He took it back and traded it for one that was essentially laser tag between it and a ground based AAA turret.
    • Go to youtube and search for "RC FPV". There's lots of video of people doing exactly that.
  • by Perl-Pusher (555592) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @12:47PM (#38436172)
    If you filmed a policeman raping a women with your cellphone, they would arrest you.
    http://www.pixiq.com/article/maryland-police-once-again-use-wiretapping-laws-to-crack-down-on-videographers [pixiq.com]
    • by batquux (323697) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @12:53PM (#38436264)

      Well if he was using your cellphone to rape her, I can see why they might want to question you.

    • by Bardwick (696376)
      Not anymore. Several court cases completely shot this down. Some cops in isolated areas might not have gotten the message yet. About a half dozen people have been "charged" with it, but no one that I know was convicted. From your own link: “Cell phones are so pervasive,” the prosecutor said, “that recording something that occurs in public raises a question of whether or not it’s unlawful. If I’m convinced this was a public encounter that just happened to be recorded, I pro
      • by russotto (537200)

        Not anymore. Several court cases completely shot this down. Some cops in isolated areas might not have gotten the message yet. About a half dozen people have been "charged" with it, but no one that I know was convicted.

        They get the message, they just don't care. They'll arrest you, take your stuff, let you spend time in jail, and then maybe you'll be found not guilty. Nothing will happen to the cop. Until such deliberate abuse of laws is punished by the cop being taken out back of the courthouse and hang

        • by cusco (717999)
          And most likely your stuff will already be sold before the case is settled, and you'll have to sue the new owner to get it back (at which point he's out the money he spent to buy it, and you've both wasted money paying lawyers). Several years ago NORML found that half the property confiscated in drug busts being sold by police didn't even belong to anyone charged with a crime. (Don't know if that's still the situation, but I'd be surprised to find that it's changed.)
    • by blueg3 (192743)

      This is an unreasonable generalization.

      See, what actually happened is that one person was arrested for videoing police as they were conducting field interviews. It's unreasonable to infer from that case that any person who videotapes a police officer would necessarily be arrested. It's quite unreasonable to infer that a person who videotapes a police officer committing a felony would be prosecuted.

      Of course, if a policeman was actually raping someone, they're probably a dangerous enough individual that if t

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @12:49PM (#38436198)

    ...when they start using it in toys.

    Night vision goggles, wireless surveillance cameras, and now spy drones, all available at your local toy store.

  • Not to worry. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by melikamp (631205) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @12:54PM (#38436276) Homepage Journal

    Only a terrorist would spy on police with a toy UAV. And thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, any such terrorist can be detained by the military indefinitely and without trial, even if a US citizen arrested on US soil. That should teach them, right?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Only a terrorist would spy on police with a toy UAV. And thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, any such terrorist can be detained by the military indefinitely and without trial, even if a US citizen arrested on US soil. That should teach them, right?

      The NDAA says nothing about whether its detention provisions apply to U.S. citizens. And by that, I mean it explicitly says nothing:

      Section 1021(e). AUTHORITIES.—Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.

      Note there may be some ambiguity about whether this provision applies to all U.S. citizens or only U.S. citizens captured or arrested in the U.S. Link. [lawfareblog.com] I tend to think it covers all U.S. citizens, all lawful resident aliens of the U.S., and all people captured or arrested in the U.S. Regardless, though, it's clear that any power the government has to detain U.S. citizens arrest

      • The Supreme Court has not definitively settled the issue. In Hamdi it ruled that authorization to use military force grants power to detain citizens captured on a foreign battlefield. Padilla, which dealt with a U.S. citizen captured in the U.S., was resolved by his indictment and conviction before the Supreme Court can rule on the issue. Thus, whether the government can detain a U.S. citizen captured on U.S. soil is unsettled as a national question.

        Don't worry. President Gingrich will happily ignore the decision [mediaite.com] and detain them anyways!

      • When toys are outlawed, only outlaws will have toys.

      • Really? Modding my explanation about the NDAA offtopic, but not the inaccurate post I responded to?
        • by jd (1658)

          Welcome to the Slashdot of today, where moderators abuse points and nobody metamoderates. It's not the site it used to be.

  • by FudRucker (866063) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @01:02PM (#38436404)
    a nice little wireless helicopter with a camera on it, i would buzz my neighborhood, what a great way to keep an eye out for crime, (i bet neighborhood watch programs would love those things)
    • by Speare (84249)
      Helicopters take a LOT of practice before you become proficient in flying them and it takes your full attention to flying, not sight-seeing. Also just as importantly, they can only fly for about five to ten minutes before needing to come down to refuel or swap batteries.
      • by Andy Dodd (701)

        Not with added stabilization electronics such as those found in quadcopters (because they NEED electronic stabilization to fly at all...)

      • Helicopters take a LOT of practice before you become proficient in flying them and it takes your full attention to flying, not sight-seeing. Also just as importantly, they can only fly for about five to ten minutes before needing to come down to refuel or swap batteries.

        Then we just need to train more seagulls [youtube.com]

      • Yes, but there are many [google.com] autopilots [diydrones.com] that can relieve the operator from the duties of flying so that they can focus on operating the camera. Also, I could be mistaken, but I believe quadcopters/multicopters [google.com] might be a little easier to fly than a conventional helicopter. At least, in my (admittedly entry-level) research into the subject, multicopters seem to be the platform of choice for most drone hobbyists (excluding fixed-wing designs, at least).
      • by robot256 (1635039)
        As a fellow RC helicopter pilot, I heartily agree when talking about single-rotor birds, but I have tried the coaxials and they are orders of magnitude easier to control. Certainly not trivial, and there are plenty of stunts you can do with them with practice, but they won't fall out of the sky if you take a drink with one hand for a few seconds. The linked model on Amazon is of the medium-sized coaxial variety and comes with a camera pre-attached, so I would expect that anyone with moderate to good coord
  • by OzPeter (195038) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @01:03PM (#38436412)

    DIY drones [diydrones.com] I have seen video from there of sub $1000 UAVs that will follow a GPS controlled flight path, stop at waypoints and take video towards the desired direction. What else do you want?

    • by Nyder (754090)

      DIY drones [diydrones.com] I have seen video from there of sub $1000 UAVs that will follow a GPS controlled flight path, stop at waypoints and take video towards the desired direction. What else do you want?

      lasers and of course, Air to Surface missiles.

      Time to add that to Santa's list.

    • by radtea (464814)

      What else do you want?

      A couple of kilos of the explosive of your choice and a terminal-phase guidance system (both within easy reach of the hobby-terrorist's budget.)

      These things are short-range cruise missiles, suitable for assassinating--or at least scaring the hell out of--the person of your choice. Think about what the loser-idiots who think violence is in any way a good response to WTO meetings would do with this.

      Up until recently anyone so stupid as to think violence will help their political cause--like people who want a

  • . . . indoor only . . . playback via USB on a compter . . .

    . . . or how about this one . . . http://www.pearl.de/a-NC1871-5955.shtml [pearl.de]

    . . . or disguised at a pen in you shirt pocket (very nerdy) . . . http://www.pearl.de/search.jsp?query_type=1&wtype=1&query=kugelschreiber+kamera&newff.x=10&newff.y=4 [pearl.de]

    . . . and they have plenty of other cameras for businesses wanting to catch employee thieves . . .

  • Custodiret Eos (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FellowConspirator (882908) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @01:12PM (#38436514)

    I have always mused about how a grass-roots citizen intelligence agency that monitors the government and it's agents might be realized. It's not a matter of turn-about being fair play, but one of the notion of checks and balances. The US system of government only functions properly to the degree that it's transparent and accountable. There's lots of practical issues, not the least of which is that closely monitoring the government or blowing the whistle can often be illegal under current law. Nonetheless, Anonymous already exists as a Citizen's Intelligence Agency of sorts, and I think that's a trend that will continue.

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Custodiret eos,

  • Rhetorical or Not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @01:19PM (#38436646) Homepage

    People are concerned about government use of domestic surveillance drones, but how is that different than what happens when people make their own drones, or buy them at a toy store?

    I can't tell if your question is rhetorical or not, because it doesn't work as a rhetorical (the simple, obvious answer is false). So here goes the straight-man answer:

    1. Private citizens are not (generally) using taxpayer money to do so.

    2. Private citizens do not (generally) have the authority to incarcerate other people.

    3. Private citizens are supposed to monitor civil servants even when there is no reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

    4. Private citizens are not (generally) supposed to engage in surveillance of other private citizens under any conditions.

    5. Civil servants are not supposed to engage in surveillance of private citizens without reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

    6. Civil servants are not supposed to buy or build things unless it is the public will that they do so (this can be an implicit will interpreted by civil leaders such as chiefs of police).

    7. Private citizens are not supposed to be inhibited in buying or building things unless the thing in question has been specifically regulated through the legislative process or other due deliberative process authorized by the people.

    Hope that helps.

    • by Forbman (794277) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @01:32PM (#38436818)

      4. Private citizens are not (generally) supposed to engage in surveillance of other private citizens under any conditions.
      You obviously don't live in a housing development with CCRs (deed restrictions on what you can do with "your" house) or a HOA (home owners association, like with a condominium or housing development), that is monitored by a bunch of really angry busy bodies, or anywhere else where some of your neighbors have nothing better to do than concern themselves with the business of everyone else. Or a neighborhood bully. Or get on the wrong side of the neighborhood watch committee for a flippant comment questioning their authoritah.

    • 3. Private citizens are supposed to monitor civil servants even when there is no reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

      Where did you get this from?

      • by Bob9113 (14996)

        >> 3. Private citizens are supposed to monitor civil servants even when there is no reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

        > Where did you get this from?

        John Adams:

        The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.

        Since agents of government must be granted the power to endanger the public liberty in order to do their jobs, they can never be trusted. Lacking trust, the public must observe and hold accountable.

        Also, attributed to various

        • You make a convincing argument for the value of scrutiny, but where is the actual law? Values mean nothing anymore.

          • by Bob9113 (14996)

            You make a convincing argument for the value of scrutiny, but where is the actual law? Values mean nothing anymore.

            Laws are the things we grant government the privilege of executing. Anything we don't grant them the privilege of is our reserved right. The things we are obligated to do to manage our government are not necessarily well codified. We each have the civic duty to discern our own responsibilities and to act accordingly. That is the fundamental nature (and difficulty) of Western Democracy, and a pr

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday December 20, 2011 @01:51PM (#38437108) Homepage

    This happened in Russia already. There was something of a flap over a small UAV observing pro-democracy protests in Moscow. But it wasn't the Government doing it. It was a group of bloggers with a model helicopter, and here are the pictures it took. [ridus.ru]

  • And it needs to happen post-haste. The US govt, with its passage of the NDAA (the military can arbitrarily arrest you and put your ass in GitMo) and other recent atrocities, is wildly out of control. D.C. and the 1% know their comeuppance is due, and they will slaughter any untold number of us to forestall that.

    The American people need to take their country in hand again, no matter what it takes. Intel is the first step.

    God Bless America, and keep her safe from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

  • I have a toy, called a sling-shot, that will render your flying spy drone toy useless long before its batteries run out. My toy has centuries of R&D ahead of your flying robotic spy drone.

  • There are two issues that remain unsolved before the drones are good enough for this to become a real game changer (for good and bad):

    1. the stationary drones are too noisy since they're choppers.

    2. the battery life is horrendous. usually around 10-15 min mark when what is needed is several hours.

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