July 2, 2012
In response to an outpouring of concern and outrage over the government’s decision to deploy military drones in the United States, the drone industry has released guidelines focusing on “safety, professionalism and respect,” The Washington Times reports.
“Acceptance and adherence to this code will contribute to safety and professionalism and will accelerate public confidence in these systems,” the ethics code issued by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International states.
The guidelines are a public relations move designed to make the use of surveillance drones more acceptable.
Members of the association include Northrop Grumman, SAIC, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Electric and other giants of the military industrial complex.
It is expected that by 2020, the airspace in the United States will host more than 30,000 UAVs. Florida and other states are dedicating taxpayer money to establish UAV hubs. Numerous law enforcement agencies have expressed a desire to add the vehicles to their arsenals.
The EPA has used drones to spy on farmers and ranchers in Nebraska and Iowa. Following an Infowars.com report on the actions by the EPA, the corporate media attempted to debunk the story.
Earlier this year, officials with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the World Privacy Forum, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, Patient Privacy Rights, Liberty Coalition, Government Accountability Project, Demand Progress, Cyber Privacy Project, Center for National Security Studies, Bill of Rights Defense Committee and dozens of other groups and individuals sent a letter to Michael Huerta, the acting administrator of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. Not surprisingly, privacy figures prominently in the letter.
“Drones greatly increase the capacity for domestic surveillance. Gigapixel cameras used to outfit drones are among the highest definition cameras available, and can ‘provide real-time video streams at a rate of 10 frames a second.’ On some drones, operators can track up to 65 different targets across a distance of 65 square miles. Drones may also carry infrared cameras, heat sensors, GPS, sensors that detect movement, and automated license plate readers,” the letter states.
“The privacy threat posed by the deployment of drone aircraft in the United States is great. The public should be given the opportunity to comment on this development.”
On June 15, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul posted an article on the CNN website warning of the threat to the Fourth Amendment posed by government drones. “The domestic use of drones to spy on Americans clearly violates the Fourth Amendment and limits our rights to personal privacy. I do not want a drone hovering over my house, taking photos of whether I separate my recyclables from my garbage,” Paul wrote.
“We should not be treated like criminals or terrorists while we are simply conducting our everyday lives. We should not have our rights infringed upon by unwarranted police-state tactics.”
In response to the rapid introduction of domestic drones, Paul introduced Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2012, a bill that “will protect Americans’ personal privacy by forcing the government to honor our Fourth Amendment rights,” according to the senator. The legislation requires police officials to obtain a warrant before using domestic drones.
The bill was introduced on June 12 and has not yet been referred to Committee.