News / USA

US Rights Advocates Turn Drones on Government

FILE - A drone flies near the scene where two buildings were destroyed in an explosion, in the East Harlem section in New York City, March 12, 2014.
FILE - A drone flies near the scene where two buildings were destroyed in an explosion, in the East Harlem section in New York City, March 12, 2014.
The growing capability of civilian drones worries some U.S. civil liberties advocates, who say these "eyes in the sky" could give the government too much information about ordinary people.  But one key expert says these unmanned aerial vehicles are getting so cheap they can turn the tables on government by giving protesters a way to watch the police.

YouTube videos show several instances of camera-equipped drones over flying over demonstrations in Poland, Thailand, Turkey and elsewhere.
 
Some of the videos show throngs of people, burning barricades, tear gas and large numbers of police.

American Civil Liberties Union policy analyst Jay Stanley said protest groups figured surveillance of police activities made it less likely officers would use excessive force. 

"We think that drone surveillance technology should not be used by the government to watch over the people when it doesn’t have reason to suspect you, but we do think it should be able to be used by the people to watch the government," he said.

Stanley said many new technologies threatened privacy, but a government eye in the sky worried Americans even more than other activities that were probably just as intrusive.

“There has been an outpouring of concern over drones, unlike anything I’ve seen as a privacy advocate for 15 years,” he said.

U.S. aviation regulators and many U. S. state legislatures have passed or are considering new laws governing drone use.

Stanley said to protect privacy and liberty; police should be required to have a reason to believe that someone is breaking the law before they start tracking someone’s activities with a drone.  

But a veteran private investigator Philip Becnel says current U.S. laws that govern surveillance from conventional planes or helicopters are adequate and are likely to cover drone operations. 

He said that meant it would be legal for police to use a drone to spot an illegal marijuana farm from the air, but would not be legal to peer into someone’s bedroom window.

Becnel said cheap civilian drones were noisy and can’t stay airborne very long, while effective drones cost too much for most private eyes.

“To get a drone that you could really do surveillance with you are looking at spending three or four grand ($3,000-$4,000) at least, so that’s cost-prohibitive [too expensive] for most private investigators right now,“ said Becnel.

That’s changing as drones get smaller, gain endurance, and are equipped with better sensors.

That’s why drones are getting many news jobs, like delivering packages, and also why they could become more persistent and more intrusive.  

A researcher at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London says there are good reasons to worry about privacy.

But in a Skype interview, Professor Keith Hayward said drones also offered unique contributions.

“I think they [the problems] are manageable, and the balance, I think the benefits and advantages that might accrue to the agricultural sector, to resource management, to environmental management, is something that we are just going to have to balance as a society," he said.

For example, drones have been used for years to sow seeds or spray chemicals in fields, and monitor and inspect other agricultural and industrial activities far more cheaply and safely than manned aircraft.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid