The Right Pushes Back on Drones

The AP ran a story recently on the use of drones on U.S. soil by civilians. I’m interested in the examples Republicans Rand Paul and Austin Scott give for curbing the use of drones in the U.S.:

“I just don’t like the concept of drones flying over barbecues in New York to see whether you have a Big Gulp in your backyard or whether you are separating out your recyclables according to the city mandates,” Paul said in an interview, referring to a New York City ban on supersized soft drinks.

He acknowledged that was an “extreme example,” but he added: “They might just say we’d be safer from muggings if we had constant surveillance crisscrossing the street all the time. But then the question becomes, ‘What about jaywalking? What about eating too many donuts? What about putting mayonnaise on your hamburger?’ Where does it stop?” [...]

Discussion of the issue has been colored by exaggerated drone tales spread largely by conservative media and bloggers.

Scott said he was prompted to introduce his bill in part by news reports that the Environmental Protection Agency has been using drones to spy on cattle ranchers in Nebraska. The agency has indeed been searching for illegal dumping of waste into streams, but it is doing it with piloted planes.

Full Story: AP (via NPR): Drones At Home Raise Fear Of Surveillance Society

On the one hand, maybe I should welcome whatever it takes to get conservatives concerned about civil liberties. But I worry about this sort of nanny state fear mongering, especially since it seems to obscure some of the more serious issues regarding policing and invasion of privacy by private corporations – not to mention the questionable use of weaponized drones by the military in the first place.

See also:

Sea Shepherd Uses Surveillance Drone to Locate Whaling Ship

Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century

John Metta: Our soldiers should die in war

2 Comments

  1. Not that on topic but wtf? “….a New York City ban on supersized soft drinks”. Are there really laws saying how much you’re allowed to eat and drink in America?

    • Not quite. There’s nothing stopping you from buying a gallon of soda and drinking in your home, it’s a ban on businesses selling large serving sizes. Much like you can buy a gallon of hard liquor and drink it in your home but a bartender isn’t supposed to “over serve” you. Still smacks of nanny state, but there’s nuance there.

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