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Congressman Releases Draft of Legislation On Domestic Drones and Privacy 70

An anonymous reader writes "Police would be required to get a warrant to use drones for certain types of surveillance under legislation introduced on Capitol Hill. The proposed bill would also tighten regulations on what kind of data can be collected by the government and private companies and how it can be used. To safeguard against abuses, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus and a longtime member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released a draft of the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act of 2012 on Wednesday." In related news, garymortimer points out that a North Dakota court has preliminarily upheld the first-ever use of an unmanned drone to assist in the arrest of an American citizen.
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Congressman Releases Draft of Legislation On Domestic Drones and Privacy

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  • Simple Idea: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jxander ( 2605655 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @05:35PM (#40861565)

    How about we just treat drones like Military Hardware, because that's exactly what they are.

    I don't expect to see police officers in Tanks, or wearing flack jackets and kevlar helmets, wielding M-16s. At least not on a day to day basis. So what makes it even remotely ok to use the same level of tech/hardware in the skies? Just because we can't see it??

    Maybe for emergency use. "Call the National Guard" type stuff, then sure, bust out whatever hardware is required to get the job done. But for day to day business, make the cops walk their beat.

    • by jhoegl ( 638955 )
      Nah, the easy solution is an umbrella hat. [umbrellahat.net]
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Better idea: As long as they're unarmed how about treating drones the same way as police helicopters used for surveillance currently are, since they do the same thing except for Medevac missions? (Not to mention a higher-flying and undectable drone might be better in pursuit surveillance in terms of not panicking the pursued?)

      And many police departments do indeed employ armored personnel carriers for SWAT or riot control duties. They do wear Flack Jackets and carry AR-15s, MP-5s, etc. as needed for their

    • by The Rizz ( 1319 )

      How about we just treat drones like Military Hardware, because that's exactly what they are.

      I'd say that it depends on what the drone does - if it's just a spy drone, then if they got the appropriate warrant for surveillance, I'd have no problem with it.

      Is your problem just that it's a military robot? I'm perfectly happy to have military-grade bomb disposal units in the hands of the local bomb squad, and don't see why anyone wouldn't be (cost notwithstanding).

      I'd even say armed drones are OK as long as they're being remote controlled, and only deployed in situations where SWAT would be sent, any

    • Just because something starts out as military hardware, doesn't mean it doesn't have valid, peaceful uses.

      The helicopter is a great example. Some military hardware has uses other than killing people and breaking things.

      I could see something like an RQ-1 being used in much the same way as traffic and police helicopters are used today. They should have the hell regulated out of them, of course. Not just for privacy, but for safety.

    • How about we just treat drones like Military Hardware, because that's exactly what they are.

      So what you're saying is that the military should surplus them and make them available to police (and fire departments, which have on occasion gotten involved in spying on the citizenry, with the result that they have been shot at while operating in the Emerald Triangle) through the existing Federal Excess Personal Property (FEPP) Program?

    • I don't expect to see police officers in Tanks, or wearing flack jackets and kevlar helmets, wielding M-16s. At least not on a day to day basis. So what makes it even remotely ok to use the same level of tech/hardware in the skies? Just because we can't see it?? But for day to day business, make the cops walk their beat.

      New York City police had a volunteer air service in 1918. Police Aviation - a chronology [policeaviationnews.com]

      The geek has no sense of geography.

      San Bernadino County has an area of 20,000 square miles. There are 106 counties in the US over 4,000 square miles each, almost all in the far West. That is a hell of a beat to walk. List of the largest counties in the United States by area [wikipedia.org]

      There is a hierarchy in American state and law enforcement that reflects local traditions and values. Places where the sheriff's deputy will be

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      How about we just treat drones like Military Hardware, because that's exactly what they are.

      This one is quite hard to determine. What differentiates it as military hardware versus some rich guy with a remote controlled helicopter/quadrocopter/plane?

      That's what a drone is, at its very core. And the RC world has its own share of wireless video links, video cameras (in HD!), telemetry, etc.

      I think there were several videos on the 'net where they strapped cameras to RC planes and helicopters and used them to fi

      • Any offensive capability like guns and missiles would be the only capability that should not be available. SWAT doesn't have access to RPGs and breachers yet, nor do they have 50 cal machine guns.

        Otherwise, let them use them, but don't expect the rednecks not to shoot at them when naughtily drunk.

      • Weapons would be the most obvious differentiation, as someone already pointed out. But there are many other features of the military drones that a rich guy and hobby shop won't be able to replicate.

        Things like automation, levels of redundancy, purpose built software, entire buildings devoted to their operation, quality of cameras, etc. I'm not the one who draws the line between military and civilian usage, but those would be a few of my sticking points. If someone is sitting with a remote control in th

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You may not realize it, but the war on drugs has created a federalized police force. As Katrina has proved, police are now beholden to the feds. And no ifs, ands, or buts, they will do anything to keep their federalized dollars rolling in.

      The war on drugs is one of the most brilliant political ploys ever played on the American people. With it, they are able to side step the US Constitution and create a federalized police force in every city of size.

      The vast, vast, vast majority of police do not require AR-1

    • by PhxBlue ( 562201 )

      How about we just treat drones like Military Hardware, because that's exactly what they are.

      So is GPS. So I'll expect you to take the navigation aid out of your car and stop using your credit card at gas stations now, kthxbai.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For some reason, I really really really want to post a drone that can provide a live feed for the web directly over Barbara Streisand's house.

  • I'd be interested on how effective a collection of homes creating no fly zones over their houses, or billing for flying in such space. It looks like this shit ain't going away, so lets make it as inconvenient as possible.
    • by jhoegl ( 638955 )
      You dont own the air, if you did then flights would never take place in Texas.
      • Actually, the ruling defining this specifies it as airspace is owned that an owner could "reasonably use". An HOA drone might take care of that requirement nicely.
        • by Nimey ( 114278 )

          Oh gods. HOAs in Texas are unbearable and malicious enough without letting them have surveillance drones.

  • Tricky defense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by InPursuitOfTruth ( 2676955 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @05:51PM (#40861709)

    This is tricky, because we certainly don't want our personal fun use of drones to be criminalized in any law, but we do want clear restrains on government and other forms of invasion of privacy.

    The question I have is, if you're sitting on 3000 acres of land, you can probably use a jamming device without impacting your neighbor's cable reception. So, what type of jamming would impact a drone?

    • by The Rizz ( 1319 )

      This is tricky, because we certainly don't want our personal fun use of drones to be criminalized in any law, but we do want clear restrains on government and other forms of invasion of privacy

      Simple solution: Pass a law saying that if it's got monitoring devices over a certain resolution that it falls into a special category that requires permits (for private use), or a search warrant (for police use).

      • Simple solution: Pass a law...

        Yeah, that's it...

      • by Hittman ( 81760 )

        I wouldn't make it so specific.

        Simply ban any use of data gathered by ANY unmanned flying vehicle inadvisable in a court of law. Forbid police agencies from using unmanned vehicles (not just drones, but smaller 'copters as well) and have a $10,000 fine for anyone in law enforcement who operates one, and a $25,000 fine for their immediate supervisor.

        No warrants, no permissions, no nothin'. You don't get to use 'em on citizens, boys, not now, not ever.

        • by The Rizz ( 1319 )

          Why the specific hate for it being unmanned? If it'd be legal for helicopter or other manned vehicle to do the spying, why should an unmanned version be any different?
          It's the "spying" part that's the problem, not the "unmanned" part.

  • by harvey the nerd ( 582806 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @05:52PM (#40861727)
    Be afraid. Be very afraid.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Legislation that creates limits on the up and coming police state in the United States? Good luck with that. You've already lost just about every freedom and expectation of privacy you've ever enjoyed. Your identity cannot be hidden while speaking, your lands can be confiscated if they aren't used in a manner the government thinks is appropriate, you're about to lose the ability to use an alias while on the internet. Watch for the executive order that will demand you all turn in your firearms, long or s

  • Once legislation is passed, there will be a huge boom in the commercial sector for UAV's. We need laws that will protect the citizens, yet open the air for commercial endeavors. Here are a few examples:

    Radio strength mapping (UAV + radio + data logger to determine radio coverage, such as cell phone or Wi-Fi)
    Physical Power line monitoring and maintenance (UAV+Camera)
    Building surveys (Contractor/consultant uses a UAV to examine the exterior of a building, looking for thermal leaks or structural cracks)

  • the same way we started enacting the drug war. Dont police the suburbs and make sure to target poor minority communities first as they lack resources to fight the use of drones. slowly expand the presence, just as we have with helicopters, to suburban areas as well. pretty soon no one will remember why or how the drones came to be.
  • So what is going to be the rule/law when it comes to displaying the owner of a drone? Country/flag, flight number?

    If there is an unmarked drone above my yard what makes me not shoot it down (or capture it ) and take it into my possession?

    I can already see a blackhat network of drone trading, and hobbyists who go after drones with their RC/drones armed to the teeth :) .... what was that Gibson novel again in Burning Chrome ...... hmm

    • Are they covered by normal FAA regulations? Do they need transponders - if so, with new Mode-S requirements anyone can buy a receiver and know where they are.

      Do they need annual, and 100 hour inspections? Flight certifications? Will the manufacturers issue airworthiness directives? With this the cost of operating a drone could approach the cost of a conventional aircraft.

      What are the requirements for drone pilots - do they need a commercial certificate with a "drone" rating? A type-rating for each t

    • Are you kidding me?

      Do you think you can shoot down any aircraft that flies over your property?

      These are / will be treated no differently than manned aircraft until such time as someone decides to pass a law / laws differentiating them.

      Browse through the FARs. Most Federal Eviation Regulations make no mention / distinction between manned / unmanned aircraft.

      It's unlawful to fire upon aircraft.

      Doesn't matter if the aircraft is American or not, armed or not, manned or not. It's unlawful to fire upon, set fir

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday August 02, 2012 @06:35PM (#40862181) Homepage

    According to what I have found about this "nearly-Mount Carmel" repeat, since when is defending one's own property "terrorizing?" I can't speak to the laws of that area, but when living in a rural area and a neighbor fails to control his livestock (you know, through the use and maintenance of fences and other devices) the property owner whose land is tresspassed by such livestock has many options and rights he might exercise which include using deadly force against the animals. (My mother shot and killed a neighbor's goat at about 80 yards with a 22 pistol as it was eating her young Apple tree... no charges were filed though the neighbor who lost a goat complained... no law was broken and she acted within the law.)

    The law also allows a land owner to prevent others from illegally trespassing on his land and deadly force is often allowed depending on local laws. The land owner is also under no obligation to return any livestock which wanders onto his property [especially due to the negligence of the livestock owner].

    So to call it theft of property is really stretching things as far as I can tell. And to call defending one's land and rights under the law "terrorizing"??? Really? Now they are really redefining things in some dangerous ways. Think of the deeper ramifications. Redefining "unlimited" to mean "limited" pales in comparison to the government guaranteeing your rights to defend yourself and property under law while at the same time charging a person who does with terrorism essentially revokes the law selectively.

    • Care to quote any of these laws? Do they apply to duly authorized police authority? I believe that deadly force is only alloed within one's own house and not just on one's land.
      Perhaps you should read section 36-13 of the North Dakota Livestock laws and the following paragraph in particular;

      36-13-04 Claiming estrays.
      When the owner of an estray, prior to the sale thereof, presents to the person in possession of the animal his affidavit stating his name, place of residence and that he is the actual owner of the estray, describing it, then the person in possession of the animal shall release it to the claimant on payment of the lawful charges. The person formerly in possession shall then promptly send the affidavit to the sheriff, who shall file and keep the same as record of the disposition of the estray. After there has been a sale of an estray under the provisions of this chapter, the former owner of an estray has no rights in the animal.

      So no, a farmer in North Dakota is not allowed to shoot stray animals out of hand.

  • ...and their anti-big brother legislation.


    • From TFA:

      It is the first drone privacy bill from a Democrat and follows legislation introduced recently by Republicans, including Rep. Ted Poe of Texas and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

      Sounds like the Dems are just following the lead of the Reps on this one.

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Thursday August 02, 2012 @09:39PM (#40863757)
    I guess no one read the article. It seems this person had the drone deployed because 6 cows wandered onto his farm, and he refused to return the cows or let the police on his land to get the cows. Yep, that surely warrants drone deployments, SWAT raidsm and felony charges. Good old US of A.
    • Well, the article is rather lean on how the standoff developed from a couple of cops coming there to respond to the neighbour's complaint to rolling SWAT out. I doubt SWAT responded to the call initially, nor did DHS give the drone at that time either.

      Events like these tend to escalate, sometimes out of control sometimes at a rather leisurely pace, but two cops with a gun being waved at them becomes four, then eight, then the chief gets involved and calls SWAT in, then everyone peers around fenders and ove

      • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
        According to TFA the charges are "terrorizing" and "theft of property". With criminal mischief thrown in for good measure. Surely if he was waving a gun around there would be far more serious charges like assault on police officer(s), attempted murder, yada yada yada (I am not a prosecutor). I dunno maybe that's all covered under "terrorizing". What exactly is terrorizing anyway? Oh I get it, it means whatever they want it to mean...
  • do these units meet EPA and Federal Noise limits?
    Is there radar signature large enough so that FAA radar can see them?
    these are the questions that have legal "teeth",that can be used against their use by civilian authorities.
    just another abuse of the constitution....

  • You can follow a suspect in plain clothes. You can photograph someone from a distance even if he's on his own personal property. You can follow someone in an unmarked car. You can observe someone from a helicopter or via satellite photo.

    You can even send people moving traffic violation tickets based on photos taken via automatic cameras.

    All of which you can do without a warrant because the subject is publicly visible.

    So how is drone surveillance any different from a legal/ethical/moral standpoint?

Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.