The Attack of the Killer Drones The Attack of the Killer Drones
The Attack of the Killer Drones

The Attack of the Killer Drones

The Attack of the Killer Drones

by Steve Eastman, CleanTV

An online magazine that promotes technological innovations to state and local governments is focusing on drones this month.  Governing reports police departments of various sizes are getting into the act, while others aren’t far behind.
 
For example, Fairfax County Virginia Police Chief, David Rohrer, told WTOP radio that unmanned drones will patrol the Washington beltway in upcoming years.  “Just as an alternative to spotting traffic and sending information back to our VDOT smart traffic centers and being able to observe backups and change lights and everything else.”

One of the attractions of drones, for government types, is the cost.  Officials in Shelby County Tennessee, better known as the Memphis area, report it only takes $3.80 an hour to fly a remote-controlled drone, versus $600 an hour for a large helicopter. 
 
The technology comes from the military.  This footage from the Air Force and the Department of Homeland Security shows one of the larger models, but the American Civil Liberties Union is talking about one the size of a hummingbird.
 
It’s no accident the ACLU is interested in the topic.  You see, back in February Barack Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, designed to prepare the way for widespread use of government, commercial and other drones by October 2015. 
 
In a published document the ACLU says, “Just as the FAA regulates drones to ensure that they are safe, so, too, should drones be regulated so that they are not used in ways that infringe on privacy.”  For example, the report foresees a day when artificial intelligence will allow drones to “continually track individuals or vehicles as they move about, using face recognition or other bodily characteristics.” 
 
Speaking of privacy, did you know one of the anticipated uses of drones is to check for energy leaks in homes as part of conservation programs?  At least that’s the official story.  And shockingly, let’s not forget, drones can carry weapons for crowd control and other purposes.  Too bad there’s no way to reason with a trigger-happy drone.
 
The good news is the House has just passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act introduced by Congressman, Jeff Landry, of Louisiana.  It provides that information collected by Department of Defense drones without a warrant may not be used as evidence in court.
 
Let’s hope the Senate and Barack Obama concur.  Otherwise, we’ll have to lean on the shaky assurance of people like Shelby County Tennessee Commissioner, Terry Roland, who recently remarked, “Unless you're doing something wrong, they probably aren't looking at you.”  Sorry, Commissioner, that’s not enough for most of us.

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