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  (Source: Curbed)
The EFF wants citizens to force local police departments to be transparent about potentially frightening fliers

The U.S. is no warzone, but in what some would call another sign of the rising U.S. "police state", some local police departments are looking to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).  These drones are startlingly similar to the kind of fliers used by the U.S. armed forces to perform attacks and surveillance within war-torn Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan -- in fact sometimes they're the same models.

Last month, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) begrudgingly complied with a Freedom of Information Act request from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to list the parties that had been authorized to use unmanned drones to patrol over U.S. Among those listed among the 60+ accepted applicants were "about two dozen" police agencies.

The EFF is quite concerned about this development, particularly given that buried within the "FAA Modernization and Reform Act", a funding bill for the FAA, was a provision that mandated that the FAA automatically accepted requests by police agencies looking to deploy drones (assuming they provide sufficient paperwork showing they know how to fly them safely).

For Americans, police are essential public servants and key defenders of communities.  But there have also been issues in many regions of police abuses.

Now with the police preparing to gain access to a powerful -- and potentially easy to abuse -- new high tech tool, the EFF is stepping up its efforts to try to involve citizens to force police departments who use drones to offer details and transparency about their program.

Police attacking
The EFF warns that police may soon have the ability to literally peer in your bedroom window.
[Image Source: Occupy News Network]

Specifically, the EFF wants citizens to ask what kind of data is being collected, how many drones are being flown, and what models of drones are being operated.  The EFF is particularly concerned about armed models, which it believes are being put into use.  It writes:

Drones are capable of highly advanced and almost constant surveillance, and they can amass large amounts of data. They carry various types of equipment includinglive-feed video cameras, infrared cameras, heat sensors, and radar. Some newer drones carry super high resolution “gigapixel” cameras that can “track people and vehicles from altitudes above 20,000 feet[,] . . . [can] monitor up to 65 enemies of the State simultaneously[, and] . . . can see targets from almost 25 miles down range.” Predator drones can eavesdrop on electronic transmissions, and one drone unveiled at DEFCON last year can crack Wi-Fi networks and intercept text messages and cell phone conversations—without the knowledge or help of either the communications provider or the customer. Drones are also designed to carry weapons, and some have suggested that drones carrying weapons such as tasers and bean bag guns could be used domestically.
The EFF adds:

This is just the first step. Once we've collected the data, we will release it and tell you how you can contact your local municipal government to demand that they ban law enforcement drones or install robust privacy safeguards that will protect citizens from unwanted—and unconstitutional—surveillance.

Those interesting in helping can visit the project page here.

UAV police
The EFF is concerned about police departments deploying armed UAVs, which raise the potential for serious abuses. [Image Source: AP]

Source: EFF

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RE: Wow...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/12/2012 3:15:43 PM , Rating: 1
Abuse? Let's not even talk about the potential of abuse. Because civilian police flying around armed Raptor drones is an unconscionable and completely over-the-line situation. Totally unacceptable. Even if NO "abuses" happen, this is not something we should tolerate as a populace.

In a time when the national debate is starting to focus on the eventual necessity of cutting back public services, and some fighting against it, this is very telling. If you have a police department that's so large and so well funded they can maintain and operate armed drones as well as all the other duties of the police, they obviously NEED to be cut back!

Why even have a National Guard? Soon police will have gunship and tank divisions as well! Give me a break with this absurd police state.

Not to sound like a crazy, but yeah, the time to stock up on guns is now. Bunker down, and don't let em' take you alive!!! :P

RE: Wow...
By leviathan05 on 6/12/2012 3:16:49 PM , Rating: 3
First, LAPD SWAT does have a tank I believe, they've had it for awhile.

Second, a single drone can cover the patrol area of multiple police cars and be more likely to observe suspicious or dangerous behavior since they are not conspicuously visible. They also have infrared cameras to allow them better night vision than policemen.

I do agree that having an armed aerial drone is ludicrous for any police department, but the article never actually states that any of the drones flying in the U.S. are armed, it only hypothesizes that they could be.

RE: Wow...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/12/2012 3:46:30 PM , Rating: 4
The issue is the drones, not whether or not they'll be armed.

A line is being crossed here. And if you can't understand that, I don't know what to tell you. I agree that Police should have the basic tools to "fight crime", but UK style 100% monitoring and surveillance of all citizens is NOT necessary to enforce laws.

RE: Wow...
By leviathan05 on 6/12/12, Rating: -1
RE: Wow...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/12/2012 4:22:43 PM , Rating: 2
The police use these drones to monitor traffic, speeding, and to be able to observe a reported location in a matter of seconds vice driving there.

The drones ALONE are millions of dollars. Ignoring all the ancillary costs that come with using them. Does it really seem like a very good idea using these "just" for traffic monitoring, speeding ticket's, and observing crimes (after the fact)?

Today drones, tomorrow curfews and Fingermen.

Take off your tin-foil hat and put down the drugs.

So going by your argument, if I'm wrong you save millions of dollars and miss out on a few speeding tickets and mister meaner crime busts. Yeah clearly I'm the nut here...

RE: Wow...
By zaraleth on 6/13/2012 4:23:00 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, it's not like members of the force aren't corrupt or anything. There definitely haven't been cases of abuse, coercion, rape, and collusion with criminals brought against members of the police force.

No, only the civic mind 'justice for all' types want to join force. Never with the mind set of intimidating others with there authority.

And once they have more and more authority, they'd never do anything that was unbecoming of an officer of the law.

Yes, maybe the cameras can't 'see' with much clarity now, but technology will keep advancing. Do you really want drones to be able to take video in HD quality of your family in the backyard? Or what's to prevent an officer spying on his/her ex to see what they are up to?

You have to remember that technology will keep improving, and once you give them the right to do something, you can't take it back.

RE: Wow...
By JediJeb on 6/13/2012 6:10:20 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, maybe the cameras can't 'see' with much clarity now, but technology will keep advancing. Do you really want drones to be able to take video in HD quality of your family in the backyard? Or what's to prevent an officer spying on his/her ex to see what they are up to?

Yup, I can already see these will be constantly patrolling over college campuses in early spring once the weather warms. You know, to make sure all those innocent students are safe and don't get sunburned ;)

RE: Wow...
By Aloonatic on 6/13/12, Rating: -1
RE: Wow...
By Aloonatic on 6/14/2012 8:08:17 AM , Rating: 2
@ all those, no doubt, flag waving patriots of the US of A who rated me down, could you please provide me with links that show how all citizens in the UK are under 100% monitoring and surveillance.

Until then, maybe you think about why you are being led to believe that the above is the case. Maybe to make you think that the monitoring that your own government carries out isn;t so bad?

RE: Wow...
By NellyFromMA on 6/13/2012 1:35:57 PM , Rating: 2
No one is suggesting (I think) that a surveillance drone wouldn't cover more area or be more efficient from a surveilance stand point. However, there is a big concern with the general public having to constantly be watched and monitored by ever expanding technological reach..

I anticipate it will meet little to no resistance though. We are surely in a new dark age eggged on by technology, I have no doubts about that...

RE: Wow...
By Jeffk464 on 6/12/2012 11:59:35 PM , Rating: 2
Armed? I don't see this happening unless things got to sh** Really except for the increased risk of mid air collisions with general aviation I don't see how this is much different from police helicopters. My guess is the first time one of these crashes into a civilian plane they we be pulled from US air space.

RE: Wow...
By MrBlastman on 6/13/2012 12:12:20 PM , Rating: 2
I wish it were that simple. In reality, the moment one of these crashes into a civilian plane, the pilot of the civilian plane will be pulled from the wreckage, put in cuffs, dragged off to some undisclosed location and booked for domestic terrorism.

Don't believe me? It's closer to happening than you really think.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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