Drones flying over the U.S.
Drones, or unmanned aircraft have become extremely popular with the U.S. military who uses them to carrying out bombing and surveillance operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. These unmanned aircraft are valued by the military for their ability to surveil or bomb with limited risk to human life.
Drones can be built with stealth technology, which allows them to fly virtually undetected. The Central Intelligence Agency used stealth drones to fly into Pakistani airspace undetected to monitor the compound where Osama Bin Laden was hiding. theage
The Federal Aviation Administration is currently working on regulations that would allow the use of drones by both law enforcement and private companies in the United States. NPR Law enforcement officials believe that the use of drones could help considerably with apprehending suspects and helping to find victims in search and rescues operations. NPR Drones are relatively inexpensive compared to the traditional search vehicle, the police helicopter; making them more financially advantageous for law enforcement.
With the police able to follow suspects from the sky undetected, how will the protections of the Fourth Amendment apply? You can’t think of drone surveillance without thinking of the recent Supreme Court case, United States v. Jones, in which the Court heard arguments on whether the police can place a GPS on your car without a warrant. Would Jones apply? Would Police need a warrant to legally follow a citizen with a drone?
“Of course the use of drones by law enforcement or private companies raises serious privacy concerns outside of the Fourth Amendment. Privacy advocate, Harley Geiger of the Center for Democracy and Technology says ‘drones are basically flying video cameras.’
‘Drones can easily be equipped with facial recognition cameras, infrared cameras or open Wi-Fi sniffers,’ Geiger says. ‘So when people think about drones they shouldn’t just think that a telephoto lens is the only feature that can raise a privacy issue.’
Nor, says Geiger, is it only law enforcement that could be watching: ‘The paparazzi, your homeowners’ association, your neighbor, a journalist can all sic drones on you as well.’” NPR
How do you feel about drones flying over the United States?