Pratap Chatterjee | Common Dreams
Boeing, the aircraft manufacturing giant from Seattle, helped defeat a Republican proposal in Washington state that would have forced government agencies to get approval to buy unmanned aerial vehicles, popularly known as drones, and to obtain a warrant before using them to conduct surveillance on individuals.
Local authorities in Seattle and in King county experimented with conducting surveillance from Draganfly Innovations drones last year, only to cancel both programs in the fact of public protest. “I’m not really surprised that people are upset,” said Jennifer Shaw from the American Civil Liberties Union, a human rights group that campaigned against the drones. “It’s a frightening thing to think that there’s government surveillance cameras overhead.”
On February 7, 2013, David Taylor, a Republican member of the state legislature, introduced a bill to regulate drone use. The proposed law quickly won support from several Democratic party politicians on the state Public Safety Committee.
Alarmed by the growing bipartisan coalition, Boeing jumped into the fray. “We believe that as the technology matures, best practices and new understanding will emerge, and that it would be counterproductive to rush into regulating a burgeoning industry,” Boeing spokeswoman Sue Bradley wrote in a statement. (The company makes a variety of drones from the Unmanned Little Bird and the A160 Hummingbird helicopters to the ScanEagle which has been used in Iran and Iraq and the proposed new X-45C combat aircraft)
The Seattle Times
Officer Reuben Omelanchuk demonstrates a drone last spring.
SEATTLE Mayor Mike McGinn’s abrupt decision to halt the Seattle Police Department’s plan to deploy aerial drones will send the two vehicles back to the vendor.McGinn made a wholly appropriate decision. It was simply bad timing to acquire the drones ahead of having established operating procedures and requirements for rigorous performance reviews.
Boisterous public expression of concerns about potential invasions of personal privacy and the Seattle City Council’s catch-up efforts to write an ordinance to cover drone use helped doom the plan.
Seattle residents find the whole notion of surveillance more than a bit creepy, and that includes the news about a phalanx of cameras on the waterfront to watch harbor and port activities. A lot of communities across the country share similar concerns about drones and surveillance. Read More
Larry Abramson | NPR
Listen To The Story
A homemade drone over Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley, Calif. Hobbyists and commercial manufacturers are anticipating new rules governing their domestic use.
Drones transformed the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan. But their use has been extremely limited in U.S. skies. The Federal Aviation Administration essentially bans the commercial use of drones, and government use is still highly restricted.But that’s changing.
For a long time, drones, which are formally known as unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, were exotic, expensive and out of reach for all but military users. Today, however, a clever hobbyist can have his own eye in the sky.
That’s the case for Andreas Oesterer and Mark Harrison. On a recent weekend, the two hobbyists are flying their collection of hi-tech toys over Cesar Chavez Park in Berkeley, Calif.
With a little push, a homemade UAV takes off into the sky. The fixed-wing plane they’ve launched is definitely unarmed. In fact, it looks like a simple remote-control plane you might find at RadioShack.
Darlene Storm | Computerworld
While having coffee and trying to clear the sleep cobwebs from my brain, I saw a headline that reminded me of Black Ops 2 casting Anonymous as cyber-terrorists hacking drones for targeted killings. Fox News claimed, “Drones vulnerable to terrorist hijacking.” Surely this was satire, a spoof? After reading about and watching a video titled “Drones Can be Hijacked and Used as Missiles,” I discovered the spoof part was right, but it was GPS spoofing by researchers that proved malicious hackers or terrorists could take control of civilian drones.
The University of Texas at Austin’s Radionavigation Laboratory demonstrated hacking a civilian drone, forcing it to change course by sending fake GPS signals, and then, “as if some phantom has given the drone a self-destruct order, it hurtles toward the ground.” At the last second, the drone was spared but Professor Todd Humphreys and his team were pleased. They had successfully proved “a gaping hole in the government’s plan to open US airspace to thousands of drones. They could be turned into weapons.” Humphreys told Fox News, “Spoofing a GPS receiver on a UAV is just another way of hijacking a plane.”
Pete Kasperowicz | The Hill
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and 10 other House Republicans want to prevent the EPA from conducting air surveillance of farms.
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and 11 other House members introduced a bill Tuesday that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from conducting aerial drone surveillance of farms to enforce the Clean Water Act, or using any other overhead surveillance.
“Unemployment has been at or above 8 percent for 30 consecutive months. Is conducting flyovers of family farms across the country really the best use of taxpayer money?” Capito asked on Tuesday.
“It’s getting to the point that I’ll have to file for a Clean Water Act permit if I want to turn the hose on in my backyard,” she said. “The EPA will take any opportunity to make it harder for farmers, energy operators or any business that deals with the EPA to operate.”
Joan Lowy | Associated Press
This September 2011 file photo provided by Vanguard Defense Industries, shows a ShadowHawk drone with Montgomery County, Texas SWAT team members. The prospect that thousands of drones could be patrolling U.S. skies by the end of this decade is raising the specter of a Big Brother government that peers into backyards and bedrooms. The worries began mostly on the political margins, but there are signs that ordinary people are starting to fret that unmanned aircraft could soon be circling overhead. (AP Photo/Lance Bertolino, Vanguard Defense Industries)
Thousands of drones patrolling U.S. skies?
This September 2011 file photo provided by Vanguard Defense Industries, shows a ShadowHawk drone with Montgomery County, Texas SWAT team members. The prospect that thousands of drones could be patrolling U.S. skies by the end of this decade is raising the specter of a Big Brother government that peers into backyards and bedrooms. The worries began mostly on the political margins, but there are signs that ordinary people are starting to fret that unmanned aircraft could soon be circling overhead.
Predictions that multitudes of unmanned aircraft could be flying here within a decade are raising the specter of a “surveillance society” in which no home or backyard would be off limits to prying eyes overhead. Law enforcement, oil companies, farmers, real estate agents and many others have seen the technology that was pioneered on battlefields, and they are eager to put it to use.
It’s not just talk: The government is in the early stages of devising rules for the unmanned aircraft.
So far, civilian use of drones is fairly limited. The Federal Aviation Administration had issued fewer than 300 permits for drones by the end of last year.
Public worries about drones began mostly on the political margins, but there are signs that they’re going mainstream.