Petition demands an end to drone surveillance

Marc from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) sez, "The Electronic Privacy Information Center has published a petition to the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, demanding the suspension of the drone program pending the development of privacy regulations for the use of drones in US airspace. Documents recently obtained by EPIC under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the drones are equipped with technology for signals interception and human identification. The agency currently operates ten Predator B drones along the border region, an area that encompasses more than two-thirds of the U.S. population. EPIC is urging individuals and organizations to Sign the Petition before March 18. Under federal law, the agency is required to respond to public petitions."


    1. Seeing as we have been murdering non-Americans with just a signature I’d say privacy is the least of their worries.

  1. So, it’s OK if they do this from regular airplanes with people in them…or collect signals using devices attached to towers, or cars, or balloons, or kites…but Unmanned Aircraft??!!?!?!! Scandal! This is all very irrational.

    1.  This is only the first step. Yes they do snoop already, but drones can be the size of cricket. They could hover outside your window.
      The ones that are larger could be armed. This would happen before anyone would be able to stop them. “We are just protecting these $25K machines.”

      1. Nope, this is step three hundred-something, not step 1.  We already have the constitution, a lot of case law, and a lot of laws to protect our privacy from the government.  People bring cases and win them regularly.  Police cannot scan our houses with thermal cameras as they drive by in cars on the street to see if you have 500 pot grow lamps heating the place up, anymore. They cannot place GPS trackers on our cars anymore without a warrant.  They were doing this stuff, people took them to court, and the government lost.

        Drones are actually very expensive, difficult to operate safely, and are a very inefficient way to try to collect information in areas where you already have officers who can just drive by any address they want to, any time of the day. The word “drone” has  acquired some kind of weird cache that is panicking people for all the wrong reasons.

        Be very concerned about your privacy.  Defend it patriotically. Vote. Recognize that there are dozens of ways for the government to spy on you using your cell phone, land line, and your internet connection without ever stepping outside, much less miniaturizing their equipment, putting it on a plane, and degrading the quality of the signals they can detect to the levels we are forced to deal with when we are trying to find bad guys from high altitude in Yemen or Afghanistan. Drones are way too hard of a way to get information in places where you have easy access or can just email a warrant to a phone company. This drone hysteria is irrational.

        1. I would characterize the drone hysteria as understandable rather than just irrational.  Who wants drones watching them take a piss?  Who wants a drone shooting them through the top of the skull?  Those are perfectly rational irrational fears.

        2. While you raise some good points regarding the issue of privacy, you seem to be limiting your thinking about drones to the Predator-B style  fixed wing craft.  (e.g., “very expensive, difficult to operate safely…”).  There are lighter-than-air craft (aerostats) operating as drones now in the US.  I have even seen one at low altitude in my city and this was at least seven years ago, now. 

          An aerostat is cheap to operate, deploy-able almost anywhere, relatively safe to operate, easily camouflaged in the air in spite of their size, and can be extremely efficient at gathering data–especially when the US government puts a fine point regarding the legal difference between “gathering data” (casting a wide net) and “listening” after the fact.

          Aerostat drones are incredibly efficient for gathering photos (including non-visible bands), sound, electronic data for any hard-to-see or access locations within a city.  Aerostats are probably not the drone of choice for more rural locations as their efficiency drops as the population density decreases.  That’s where you need a fixed wing solution like a Predator-B.

          1. Actually the last big aerostat program was canceled about three weeks ago.  Search for an article titled “Army Kills The Military’s Last Remaining Giant Spy Blimp” on Wired. 

          2. LEMV is not an aerostat. LEMV was an Army mega-blimp program that never became operational and is now cancelled.  The last paragraph makes it clear that  aerostat programs are still alive and have been operational for years and it is precisely this technology that I am referring to.

    2. Here are the key words you skipped:

      …demanding the suspension of the drone program pending the development of privacy regulations for the use of drones in US airspace.

      If there were a real program where the government was flying more and more surveillance kites, without privacy regulations that apply, you could expect EPIC would protest them too.

    3. This is all very irrational.

      No. It requires the use of rational thought to decide when and where such things are appropriate. Blanket rules are irrational.

    4. Drones vastly reduce the cost and increase the reach of government surveillance, no matter who’s in charge of them.  How 100% of the country isn’t outraged by this is beyond comprehension.

      1.  I find drone acceptance quite easy to comprehend. A shocking portion of the population lives in a bubble of ignorance where they still believe that if you haven’t done anything, you don’t have anything to fear.

    5.  It is never alright for the government to spy on its own law abiding citizens. That’s why we have a constitution and bill of rights my friend, to keep the government in check. There is nothing irrational about that, and it is not OK for them to spy on Americans without a warrant at all, no matter how they may choose to do it.

  2. Here is a chance for those 2nd amendment folks to do something useful.  Work on those anti-aircraft shooting skills.

  3. Consider that in the 20th century, we were concerned about portable radios and handheld cameras. Think of teh privacy!

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