tularemia symposium2013

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Drones and the Right to Privacy

The right to privacy is often a severely debated topic among nations such as America. With the current use of drones there is a severe concern that domestic drones could violate citizens’ rights to privacy. Unmanned drones are now a wonderful asset for many governments but in particular the American government in with the war on terror. They collect data on the movements of enemies and they can be used to strike targets with minimal hassle to use. The small drones are nimble and almost entirely silent. While they are generally designed to follow enemies of the state and make strikes on designated enemy targets, they can be used some fear to keep tabs on regular law-abiding citizens.

Many civil rights groups and politicians have warned that in the near future the federal government may use drones to patrol the border of Mexico and Canada which would alleviate the high number of border patrol agents. This is something that is already being used. In addition, drones are being used by NASA to track storms. The use of domestic drones is beneficial in these regards. However given that they are a rather new design, there is limited legislature or oversight particularly for domestic drones. The use of domestic drones is now raising concerns about privacy and what potential violation of the fourth amendment they might bring. A formal petition was submitted in March 2013 to the US customs and border protection agency asking that they suspend the use of drones along the border until a legal framework has been established as to the legality of drone use domestically. For many law-abiding citizens the idea of government drones buzzing overheads and monitoring their activities is contrary to what they believe a free society should offer.

Law-enforcement agencies both local and statewide are warming up to the concept of domestic grounds for reconnaissance missions. For local law-enforcement agencies the use of drones can help to search for missing persons and can alert officers when crimes take place or accidents take place. In addition, they argue that the use of drones can provide video of said incidents. In addition to law-enforcement they can also be used to photograph real estate, survey crops, and fight fires. Drones can inspect fields to make sure that fruit is free from disease. This technology is incredibly cheap and quickly emerging, and yet the potential threat that it can pose to privacy and civil liberties has not gone unchecked.

Since 2007 more than 1400 unmanned aircraft have been used by universities, federal agencies, and local Police Department domestically. State legislation has started to restrict the use of domestic drones, for bidding weapons on the drones and requiring government approval for any activity. 30 states to date have drafted drone restriction policies citing the fourth amendment.