With recent exposure of who is authorized to own and fly drones in the United States and a bill passed earlier this year opening up the sky more for military, commercial and private drone use, the Federal Aviation Administration has begun rolling out rules for how local law enforcement can use unmanned aerial vehicles. This has continued debate over what is considered an infringement on privacy.
And now Fox commentator Charles Krauthammer is weighing in, and his position might surprise you.
The FAA states on its website that its main concern is to “[streamline] the process for public agencies to safely fly UAS in the nation’s airspace.” Some of the recent progress the FAA says it has made includes developing a method to expedite the process for interested parties to obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to fly the drones; changing the length of authorization from 12 months to 24 months; and allowing law enforcement to fly a drone up to 25 pounds (the rule used to be 4.4 pounds) in controlled airspace within the operators line of sight.
Fox News describes some of these actions as “taking a tool that has become synonymous with U.S. counterterror warfare in countries like Pakistan and Yemen — and putting it in the hands of U.S. law enforcement.” Although, it notes that drones flying over U.S. soil would not be equipped with weapons and would be used for surveillance only. Charles Krauthammer on Special Report earlier this week said he wants a resounding ban on domestic drone use.
“I’m going to go hard left on you here. I’m going to go ACLU,” Krauthammer said in the show. “I don’t want regulations. I don’t want restrictions. I want a ban on this.”
Krauthammer explains that he considers drones “instruments of war” and cites the Founder’s aversion to such instruments maintaining a presence inside the United States. He compares a drone to a high-tech version of an old army and a musket.
Watch the panel debate here:
Commenting off Krauthammer’s stance on domestic drones, Hot Air speculates that much of the negative reaction to drone use in the U.S. is over the “ick” factor that machines similar to those used against terrorists will now be increasing in our own airspace. It writes what really should be considered “icky” are privacy concerns. Hot Air also questions if drones will really be of value to law enforcement as other technology, such as cellphones and in-car GPS systems could be accessed by police following the appropriate legal channels:
If you have probable cause to find out where someone is, there are faster and more precise ways of finding out technologically than by sticking a camera a few thousand feet up. In fact, if Google’s self-driving car catches on, cops might eventually be able to remotely commandeer a perp’s car if necessary. In a world where, according to cybersecurity experts, there’s not a single unclassified computer network in America that’s secure from hackers, drones seem an odd place to draw the line in the sand.
Fox has more from those concerned about privacy infringement:
“Our Founding Fathers had no idea that there would be remote-control drones with television monitors that can feed back live data instantaneously — but if they had, they would have made darn sure … that these things were subject to the Fourth Amendment (protecting individual privacy),” Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, told Fox News.
Lawmakers like Barton say there are “legitimate uses” for drones on U.S. soil, but that strict privacy standards will be needed.
“It would be okay for a drone to be used in order to make sure that all the cattle on a ranch are identified on an ongoing basis. It’s okay … to survey a forest to make sure there are no forest fires. But it would not be okay if that individual who purchased the drone then decided ‘I think I’ll go and check and see what’s going on over in my neighbor’s backyard’,” Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said. “That would be wrong and that has to be protected against.”
According to the FAA, later this year it will release a proposed rule that would establish policies, procedures and standards for all the various users of small unmanned aerial vehicles, which it says “will likely experience the greatest near-term growth in civil and commercial operations because of their versatility and relatively low initial cost and operating expenses.”