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A drone by any other name...

Posted on May 15th, 2015 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

Shadow WatchRevolution News notes that the Illinois State Police have been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones—but are refusing to actually call them drones. In a statement released to Sun-Times Media Wire, the state police department admitted that it is intentionally avoiding the word "drone" because "it carries the perception of pre-programmed or automatic flight patterns and random, indiscriminate collection of images and information." The force will add "unmanned aircraft" to its list of tools for the next two years. The state police said they worked with legal professionals and the American Civil Liberties Union to minimize the privacy impact on average citizens, and needed the drones primarily for "investigation of major traffic crashes."

Two years ago, the Illinois state assembly passed the "Freedom from Drone Surveillance Act," prohibiting use of drones—except by the police, and then only with a warrant. That was also a concession won through ACLU pressure.

A year and a half ago, the Seattle city police force had to abandon plans for a drone surveillance program after a citizen outcry. Laws restricting drone use are pending in several states, and lets hope they will inlcude restrictions on police use. Let's also hope cops aren't able to avoid public scrutiny by playing word games.

Photo by Hammer51012  

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North Dakota legalizes armed police drones

Global Ganja Report's picture With the passage of a new law last year, North Dakota has become the first state to legalize law enforcement use of armed drones. Though the law limits the type of weapons permitted to those of the "less than lethal" variety—tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray and Tasers—the original bill actually aimed to ensure that no weapons at all were allowed on police drones. The sponsor of the original bill, Republican state Rep. Rick Becker, said he wasn't happy with how that part of the law turned out.

"In my opinion there should be a nice, red line: Drones should not be weaponized. Period," Becker said at a hearing in March.

Originally, the intent of the bill was to require police to obtain a search warrant before using a drone to look for evidence. It also prohibited weapons aboard drones. But to get a measure passed that would require search warrants, Becker had to compromise on the weapons issue. (NPR, Aug. 27)
Comment by Global Ganja Report on Feb 3rd, 2016 at 3:04 am

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