The ACLU Blogs an Oppressive, Drone-Filled Hypothetical Future

Worried about drones and your civil liberties? Well, you probably should be, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Not only do they do things like sue the U.S. government for documents about the now-officially real program of covert assassinations in the Middle East, but damn it, they also like to blog lists of what may happen to the U.S. now that domestic drones and what that means for your future liberties are a hot news item (and will be until at least 2015, most likely).

Observe the ACLU's blog of rights today on "Drones: The Nightmare Scenario":

In our drones report, we discuss the coming onslaught of domestic drones and the weak state of the privacy laws that should protect us, and we outline our recommendations for protections that Congress and local governments should put in place.

But if nothing is done, how might things go? Let’s take a look at how police drone use could unfold:

1) The FAA’s new rules go into effect. Acting under orders from Congress, the FAA in coming months and years will significantly loosen the regulations that have been holding back broader deployment of drones. Starting later this year, for example, the FAA must allow any “government public safety agency” to operate any small drone (under 4.4 pounds) as long as certain conditions are met.

2) More and more police departments begin using them. The FAA’s new rules allow for the release of pent-up demand among police departments for cheap aerial surveillance. Ownership of drones quickly becomes common among departments large and small. Organizations are formed by police drone operators, who exchange tips and advice. We also begin to hear about their deployment by federal agencies, other than on the border.

3) We start to hear stories about how they’re being used. Most departments and agencies are relatively careful at first, and we begin to hear stories about drones being put to use in specific, mostly unobjectionable police operations such as raids, chases, and searches supported by warrants.

4) Drone use broadens. Fairly quickly, however, we begin to hear about a few departments deploying drones for broader, more general uses: drug surveillance, marches and rallies, and generalized monitoring of troubled neighborhoods.

5) Private use is banned. A terrorist like the pilot who crashed his planeinto an IRS building in Texas uses an explosives-laden drone to try to attack a public facility. In response, the government clamps down on private use of the technology. The net result is that the government can use it for surveillance but individuals cannot use it to watch the government.

6) Drones become able to mutually coordinate. Multiple drones deployed over neighborhoods can be linked together, and communicate and coordinate with each other (see this video for an early taste of what that could look like). This allows a swarm of craft to form a single, distributed wide-area surveillance system such as that envisioned by the “Gorgon Stare” program.

The rest is a disturbingly credible (or, at least worth considering) vision of this technology which will not be crammed back into the box. After all, if the legal system cannot keep up with the existence of smartphones, or airplanes, with any sanity, odds are that police and other domestic authorities will get away with a lot when it comes to drones before courts remember things like the Fourth Amendment.

Reason on drones

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  • ||

    Speaking of cops, aerial vehicles, and shit... http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/.....-bail.html

  • ||

    This allows a swarm of craft to form a single, distributed wide-area surveillance system such as that envisioned by the "Gorgon Stare" program.

    We're way behind the limeys, who already have SCORPION STARE.

  • ||

    It still amazes me you got out of the UK in one piece.

  • ||

    I didn't. My calcaneus was still in 5 pieces when I left.

  • ||

    Yes, but all of it was still within your foot. Granted, it did need further intervention from an orthopedic surgeon who doesn't open pints with his or her teeth.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Once there all connected to Skynet it will be over.

  • db||

    Singularity, Baby. It's what's for your last supper.

  • R C Dean||

    I do believe that's basically the premise of Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Which I saw an ad for last night, and if I was a shooter guy, would totally have a boner for. Looked great.

  • John||

    http://washington.cbslocal.com.....or-5-days/

    I assume this little kick in the nuts got blogged earlier today.

  • Sevo||

    Yeah, and the cops say 'sorry' (read 'tough shit, pal').

  • Sevo||

    "more general uses: drug surveillance,"
    Not sure what this means.

    "marches and rallies,"
    Not sure I have a problem here. If you are in a public area, speaking freely, I'm not sure how you could gripe about being 'imaged'.

    "and generalized monitoring of troubled neighborhoods."
    Warrants.
    Want to 'surveill' an area? Tell the courts what you hope to find and why you think it'll happen during the time-span and see if the court agrees.
    No fishing expeditions. No Limey 'put a camera on every pole' and hope to find something.

  • ||

    Want to 'surveill' an area? Tell the courts what you hope to find and why you think it'll happen during the time-span and see if the court agrees.

    And if the court agrees to a time span of "indefinite"?

  • Sevo||

    "And if the court agrees to a time span of "indefinite"?"
    Then warrants become worthless, and there's not much anyone can do about it.
    Call me an optimist, but SCOTUS did pass on Citizens United, and what's the alternative?

  • ||

    Call me an optimist, but SCOTUS did pass on Citizens United, and what's the alternative?

    Ultimately, nine demi-gods in black robes will probably determine that at some point. If they even agreed to hear the case, there's no guarantee that a future SCOTUS would not defer to Federal powers, much less the current one. Thomas and other largely conservative minded judges will not be on the court forever. Kagan is young and I'm convinced the pickles yenta will still be on the court looking even more like her sister, The Cryptkeeper.

  • Sevo||

    GM, there isn't any doubt that things can get far worse. But then, (repeat) what's the alternative? I'll grab the (not yet outlawed) flyswatter and nail that 'insect drone', but what else?
    Oh, and, I'm getting the Reason Cruise pitch on the right. Not to rain on the parade, but wife and I did that a couple of years back. Sounds romantic; looking out over the ocean! Here's what you see: 8AM, water. 10AM, water. Noon, water. 2PM, water..... 5PM, water and (surprise!) something that makes a small wave in the water.

  • Sevo||

    BTW, as those who serve their customers well, the cruise lines have this figured; drinking is a prime activity and not cheap. That wave looks a lot bigger if you've 'had a couple'.

  • ||

    But then, (repeat) what's the alternative?

    Meh. I've got mine, but favorable outcomes are never guaranteed.

    May I suggest fly paper? Maybe all those ridiculous ideas Wile E. Coyote dreamed up were really how-to's on dealing with such a menace.

    Sounds romantic; looking out over the ocean! Here's what you see: 8AM, water. 10AM, water. Noon, water. 2PM, water..... 5PM, water and (surprise!) something that makes a small wave in the water.

    Not terribly creative, are ye? Besides, Teh STEVE SMITH will be on that cruise. Few orifices will be safe.

  • Sevo||

    "Not terribly creative, are ye?"
    Well...
    In this case, I got a printed chart of the sailing course (you had to look and ask), and the TV in the room had regular coordinate updates on the actual route.
    It was enjoyable plotting the planned route against the actual one. As opposed to watching water with an occasional wave.

  • AlmightyJB||

    "8AM, water. 10AM, water. Noon, water. 2PM, water..... 5PM, water and (surprise!) something that makes a small wave in the water."

    That sounds a hell of a lot better than work. Especially with a drink in hand.

  • ||

    A cruise is like checking into a hotel (after having your bags xrayed to make sure you don't have your own booze or drugs), but you can't leave.

  • ||

    Starting later this year, for example, the FAA must allow any "government public safety agency" to operate any small drone (under 4.4 pounds) as long as certain conditions are met.

    Gee, could they be any more vague and ambiguous? What "agency" isn't charged with "public safety" in some way, shape or form? What's next? Medical drones? Drone therapy? Yes, yes, I know, it's not the drone, but the hand that guides it, but I don't trust the handlers of these Skynet sockpuppets.

    Thanks for the nutpunch, Lucy. I'll bill you accordingly for my sterility.

  • AlmightyJB||

    So will this things be flying low enough to shoot down? I'm asking purely academically.

  • Lucy Steigerwald||

    Me too, me too. Got to write that...paper.

  • ||

    For Dr. Wile E. Coyote, PhD and professor emeritus, no?

  • Sevo||

    AJB,
    From some reports, it seems they might be small enough that an (outlawed, I'm sure) flyswatter might do the trick.
    Listen for the 'funny' buzzing sound; not like the skeeter.

  • ||

    Listen for the 'funny' buzzing sound; not like the skeeter.

    Every time I hear "skeeter", I think of this game. Leonard and Bubba would know what to do with these Skynet sockpuppets!

    Also, the soundtrack to this game is still the awesome. DOSBox FTW!

  • AlmightyJB||

  • ||

    odds are that police and other domestic authorities will get away with a lot when it comes to drones before courts remember things like the Fourth Amendment.

    Huh? What? Fourth Amendment? Oh yeah, yeah. That. Sorry, I was staring at your tits, ma'am.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Then there is the infrared technology that will let them see through walls.

  • Sevo||

    Uh, are you sure insulation codes might not confuse them?
    If so, we can watch an epic battle.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I think it was thermal imaging I was thinking of and I don't know how detailed it would be. I think it's been used to nail growers in the UK. The growing lamps give off enough additional heat to be detacted. Not sure if they can actually "see" people through the walls though.

  • ||

    Supposedly, heat seeking missiles have been hampered by rising temps. If there is such a thing as AGW (I have my doubts), perhaps something like that could be parlayed into something useful.

    "This? This is ice. This is what happens to water when it gets too cold. This? This is Kent. This is what happens to people when they get too sexually frustrated."

  • db||

    This is Jesus, Kent. STOP PLAYING WITH YOURSELF.

  • ||

    What about that time I found you naked with that bowl of Jell-O?

  • db||

    It was hot and I was hungry, OK?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Never saw that. Val Kilmer looks pretty freakin' gay on the picture they have at IMDB for that. Last I saw he's not lookin' all that good now.

  • db||

    That film is not to be missed.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Never saw that. Val Kilmer looks pretty freakin' gay on the picture they have at IMDB for that. Last I saw he's not lookin' all that good now.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Never saw that. Val Kilmer looks pretty freakin' gay on the picture they have at IMDB for that. Last I saw he's not lookin' all that good now.

  • ||

    You must see it, post haste, AJB. It's a bona fide classic! Kilmer looks more like a pudgy lesbian these days, like k.d. Lang if she gained some girth.

  • AlmightyJB||

    LOL:)

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Also, they will try to rely on solar power at some point.

  • widget||

    http://www.thinkrc.com/helicop.....rce=google

    You too can participate in the drone war starting at $69.95.

  • Killazontherun||

    The impetus for military technological development was originally to keep up with the Germans in WWI, then the Germans and Japaneses in WWII, then the Warsaw Pack during the Cold War. Now, the government is in an arms race with the American people.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Hope we win!

  • widget||

    "The impetus for military technological development was originally to keep up with the Germans in WWI"

    I think the impetus goes back to selecting a rock with pointed edge to clobber Grog in the head when he lookin' too long your gal.

  • widget||

    I was thinking about correcting that sentence.

  • Sevo||

    "I think the impetus goes back to selecting a rock with pointed edge to clobber Grog in the head when he was lookin' too long at your gal."

    Boy, howdy! White Injun would really have something to say about that!
    'Course, it wouldn't be worth reading.
    (fixed it; you deserve it)

  • AlmightyJB||

    Those are pretty cool actually.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    RC aircraft will not be fucked with.

    Not fucked with.

  • db||

    Next up is .22lr belt fed solenoid fired MGs on drones. For enforcing dog licensing, of course.

  • AlmightyJB||

    They'll shoot first and then have someone walk around and check for the tags.

  • AlmightyJB||

    We would like to inform you that your dead dog did indeed have the proper tags. You will therefore not be receiving a citation. You're welcome.

  • db||

    Why bother checking? The complaint process will take care of that. The complaint form will require dog license # to be filled out. Any that show expired as of termination date will be circular filed.

  • John||

  • Longtorso||

    Speaking of the ACLU and drones, I just want their robo-fundraising calls to stop.

  • Tyger_purr||

    It is my understanding that while private drones are initially banned, but as the regulations are put in place they will later be allowed... what i wonder is what is considered a drone?

  • widget||

    Your left pinky finger is a drone remotely controlled by your mind.

  • CA's former governor||

    You cannot prevent judgment day. You can only postpone it.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Drones are just an additional thing that will not prevent the day.

  • jasno||

    Wait, they left out the part where bored teenagers and engineering students start jamming the drones and using them for mischief.

    Really... how long do you think it will take before LadyAda or another hacker releases a drone jamming kit? Not long. This is going to be fun to watch.

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    X Prize.

  • TingoZing||

    That does not make a lot of sense dude, I keam like seriously.

    www.Privacy-Guys.tk

  • SIV||

    I hate to see the penalty for aiming a laser at a "public safety" drone. Probably be worse than shooting a police dog.

  • PantsFan||

    And that's why this sax solo doesn't suck.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q1809vqz3zA

  • NL_||

    I'm starting to think that the ACLU needs to abandon its lobbying and litigation arms and put all of Barbra Streisand's donated money into a Predator-style cloaking suit. I'll chip in five bucks, provided it also comes with a UV-IR visor and dreadlocks.

  • NL_||

    Though I guess the Predator cloak will be negated when the government hires Gary Busey and a team of guys in thermal suits to find us by our heat signatures.

  • Jon A.||

    I foresee a future when every mansion in Beverly Hills has its own wind turbine, just to ward off the nuisance drones.

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