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Old Dec 6, 2012, 03:06 PM   #1
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Newly Released Drone Records Reveal Extensive Military Flights in US.

It seems to get more disturbing everyday.
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Thanks to new documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, we're starting to see a clearer picture of the rapid deployment of unmanned aerial drones by military, state and local law enforcement inside the domestic United States. Using data obtained through their Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the FAA, the EFF have constructed an interactive map showing the locations where police, military, and others are currently authorized to fly drones in national airspace, as well as some details on the drones themselves and how they're being used.

Civil rights groups have been trying to obtain as much of this information as possible after a Congressional mandate and a Department of Homeland Security initiative earlier this year made clear the US government's intent to "facilitate and accelerate the adoption" of drones by public and private entities on US soil, including police. Use of drones has already been documented in several places, including local police in areas of Texas and Florida. But the new data reveals that both police and military drone flights have become a regular occurrence in many areas of the country, and many more public and private entities are still hoping to get in on the game.
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In one of the creepier examples, Reaper drones being flown by the US Air Force near Lincoln, Nevada, are being outfitted with "Gorgon Stare" technology, which uses a nine-camera array capable of surveilling an entire city at once.

For law enforcement, the focus with drones remains on drug investigations. The Queen Anne County, Maryland Sheriff's Department, for one, will be using drones equipped with special imaging technology to surveil large patches of farmland for marijuana growth. Meanwhile, police in Arlington, Texas are hoping to spot drug transactions with their Leptron Avenger drone, which EFF notes is able to be loaded with the LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) technology used by police to detect traffic violations.
http://www.theverge.com/2012/12/6/37...tic-drones-eff
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 06:26 PM   #2
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That's scary. Although what scares me most is that most people seem to have no issue with this. I see this as a slippery slope.
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 06:39 PM   #3
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Hell I can buy a remote controlled mini drone at the toy store and snoop around my neighborhood.

But as far as military/local LEA doing this it IS a slippery slope.
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 06:45 PM   #4
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But as far as military/local LEA doing this it IS a slippery slope.
What could they see that would different from driving down a public street?

But I accept your point, that given enough 'opportunity' they will run away with the store.
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Old Dec 6, 2012, 08:25 PM   #5
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Ok I updated the title to be more specific.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 08:23 AM   #6
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I can wait for all the paparazzi drones buzzing around hollywood peaking inside peoples windows. You just know that will happen.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 08:27 AM   #7
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What could they see that would different from driving down a public street?

But I accept your point, that given enough 'opportunity' they will run away with the store.
You beat me to it. It is ok to have a company drive down the street with cameras galore......or flying over head.

Going to be interesting to say the least.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 08:58 AM   #8
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The more that I read about this, the more that I know this is going to go terribly wrong, one day.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 09:47 AM   #9
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There is an urgent need to regulate drone technology - it is not rocket science to realize that these things could be used against the US far more cheaply than the cost of defending against them.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 09:53 AM   #10
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I see while some states are legalizing pot, other states are still aggressively fighting it. Losing battle my friends.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 10:29 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by iJohnHenry View Post
What could they see that would different from driving down a public street?.
You generally can't see someone's backyard from the street.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 11:29 AM   #12
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I wonder what will happen when one of those mini-drones that law enforcement wants to use gets sucked into a jet engine and the plane crashes on a school? Or, with somewhat greater frequency, collides with a single-engine Cessna?

Drones used in rural areas, around forest fires, and so on, are a very different thing than using them in crowded urban airspace.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 11:43 AM   #13
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The more that I read about this, the more that I know this is going to go terribly wrong, one day.
That is an understatement. It will become a slippery slope very quickly, probably 'as matter of national security'. I do not think the government has a right to interfere with the private life of citizens, and this is a great way to do just that.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 01:29 PM   #14
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You beat me to it. It is ok to have a company drive down the street with cameras galore......or flying over head.

Going to be interesting to say the least.
The difference is the Google car driving down the street is not taking real time data.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 02:08 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by jnpy!$4g3cwk View Post
I wonder what will happen when one of those mini-drones that law enforcement wants to use gets sucked into a jet engine and the plane crashes on a school? Or, with somewhat greater frequency, collides with a single-engine Cessna?

Drones used in rural areas, around forest fires, and so on, are a very different thing than using them in crowded urban airspace.
Generally speaking, the FAA's Certificates of Authorization (what EFF sued for to get this data) restrict when and where drones can fly. So, for the time being, a drone, especially the relatively large ones like the Predator/Reaper, are kept away from high-traffic flight areas.

And, while a Predator can fly up to 30,000-feet, DHS currently uses them around 16,000 to 18,000 feet.
The biggest problem with the technology is the potential loss-of-contact and what the drone does in response.

The Predators used by DHS are set to return to base and then fly a racetrack overhead until contact is reestablished or it crashes. Moreover, in Arizona, the department has a list of airfields that should allow the Predator crash-land in the event of an engine or mechanical failure.

The ones I would be worried about are groups like TMZ (it was once rumored they wanted one) getting a drone and flying it without any authorization or flight-plan. There, a LOC could be disastrous, since the drone would likely be flying over a highly-populated area or could collide with a manned helicopter.

Ultimately, the drone is a technology that can only be regulated, not kept in the box. It's too easy to build one using off-the-shelf parts and open source software.

----------

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The difference is the Google car driving down the street is not taking real time data.
Why do you think this distinction is important?
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 03:49 PM   #16
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The difference is the Google car driving down the street is not taking real time data.
Sure it is, it is not displaying it to world, but it is taking it, processing it, possible keeping it in a harddrive on the camera's mode of transportation, but it is taking it in real time, just not displaying it real time if that is what you mean.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 03:58 PM   #17
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Sure it is, it is not displaying it to world, but it is taking it, processing it, possible keeping it in a harddrive on the camera's mode of transportation, but it is taking it in real time, just not displaying it real time if that is what you mean.
I may be confused by your post, but many of the drones, such as the Predator, are capable of sending real-time video data to a remote location which has DVRs for keeping the video.

The Google Maps cars don't do this, but there's no real reason they couldn't. Again, I'm not sure this distinction matters: photos are okay, but live video isn't?
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 05:06 PM   #18
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I may be confused by your post, but many of the drones, such as the Predator, are capable of sending real-time video data to a remote location which has DVRs for keeping the video.

The Google Maps cars don't do this, but there's no real reason they couldn't. Again, I'm not sure this distinction matters: photos are okay, but live video isn't?
All I was commenting on, was that when a google car travels by that has the camera, that data is going somewhere, still or video it is still going somewhere in a real time for that particular moment. That is all. It is not sending a live video stream, or is it, that is being captured, edited if need be and then sent to the web (process streamlined for sake of conversation).

That is all I was saying. Whether good or bad, I don't know. I don't think it matters if it is video or still. It is still capturing data.

This reminds me of the controversy over having cameras in big cities capturing and archiving video and still pictures.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 06:11 PM   #19
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I'm hoping for a nice, shiny drone myself this Christmas. Those Parrot thingies would be great for surveying as well as surveillance.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 07:07 PM   #20
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The difference is the Google car driving down the street is not taking real time data.
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Originally Posted by hulugu View Post
Why do you think this distinction is important?
It really isn't, unless your backyard neighbour is miles away.

Most neighbours around here have 2nd story windows looking over your pool, or whatever.

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Old Dec 7, 2012, 10:30 PM   #21
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I may be confused by your post, but many of the drones, such as the Predator, are capable of sending real-time video data to a remote location which has DVRs for keeping the video.

The Google Maps cars don't do this, but there's no real reason they couldn't. Again, I'm not sure this distinction matters: photos are okay, but live video isn't?
The google cars are just mapping streets and the front of a house. Plus you can see the car drive by. The drones are taking real time live data from up above, I doubt many people even know they are there. So they can actually spy where the car is just there for 5 seconds and gone.
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Old Dec 8, 2012, 12:21 AM   #22
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I'm hoping for a nice, shiny drone myself this Christmas. Those Parrot thingies would be great for surveying as well as surveillance.
Yeah, we're supposed to take delivery of a drone from a NZ company to do ecology surveys. It has a couple of sensors and a camera with a 12mm lens, which is pretty cool. The software to fly it is a pain though.

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The google cars are just mapping streets and the front of a house.
Sure, but a drone is just taking a picture of the roof.

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...Plus you can see the car drive by. The drones are taking real time live data from up above, I doubt many people even know they are there.
So, if the drone were obvious (blinking lights at night, bright colors in the day) would this change?

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...So they can actually spy where the car is just there for 5 seconds and gone.
Is it the time? What's the difference, do you think, between momentary surveillance and ubiquitous surveillance? Is there a difference between an unmarked car sitting on your street and a drone? Or a cruiser?

Isn't it still someone watching you?
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Old Dec 8, 2012, 12:26 AM   #23
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Yeah, we're supposed to take delivery of a drone from a NZ company to do ecology surveys. It has a couple of sensors and a camera with a 12mm lens, which is pretty cool. The software to fly it is a pain though.



Sure, but a drone is just taking a picture of the roof.



So, if the drone were obvious (blinking lights at night, bright colors in the day) would this change?



Is it the time? What's the difference, do you think, between momentary surveillance and ubiquitous surveillance? Is there a difference between an unmarked car sitting on your street and a drone? Or a cruiser?

Isn't it still someone watching you?
I doubt the Google car is able to sniff out pot or track a car's speed. I would gather that all the google car does is map out gps and document the surroundings. We don't know what the droids are capable of but I would bet they are of much higher surveillance quality.

Maybe this will change your mind. http://www.impactlab.net/2011/07/12/...s-and-insects/
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The U.S. Air Force is developing the miniature spy craft with the goal of making them so small that they resemble birds and even insects.

Some even have moving wings that military chiefs hope will look so convincing that people won’t pay them any attention.

The Micro Air Vehicles (MAVs) are being developed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

The base’s Air Force Research Laboratory mission is to develop MAVs that can find, track and target adversaries while operating in complex urban environments.

The engineers, led by Dr Gregory Parker, are using a variety of small helicopters and drones in the lab to develop the programs and software.

Testing takes place in a controlled indoor environment, during which data is gathered to analyse for further development.

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Old Dec 8, 2012, 12:33 AM   #24
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I doubt the Google car is able to sniff out pot or track a car's speed.
Well, it could. Google could add an infrared camera and day/night television camera and they're close to the feature set of a Predator. You're moving your argument around.

Why shouldn't police or other authorities have access to drones? What's the moral and legal argument against it?

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...I would gather that all the google car does is map out gps and document the surroundings.
Sure, I can get a drone to do something rather similar from overhead.

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...We don't know what the droids are capable of but I would bet they are of much higher surveillance quality.
There's certainly some new SIGINT and nuclear detection sensors on drones run by the CIA (and other three-letter agencies) and possibly better cameras, but the general technology is fairly well-known.

And, it's fairly easy to know what's in the models potentially used by police agencies.


EDIT: On new drone models, including the small bird-like or insect-like drones, I'm well aware. At this point, I've been researching drones for months. What I'm looking for is your argument about why is is bad.

Not that I think it's good, I'm just trying to refine the arguments about why drones are bad for society. Are airplanes and squad cars okay? Is it the time-scale? The secretiveness? Is it the intrusion of IR cameras and listening devices?

Where do we draw the line and where do we cross it?
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Old Dec 8, 2012, 12:36 AM   #25
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Well, it could. Google could add an infrared camera and day/night television camera and they're close to the feature set of a Predator. You're moving your argument around.

Why shouldn't police or other authorities have access to drones? What's the moral and legal argument against it?



Sure, I can get a drone to do something rather similar from overhead.



There's certainly some new SIGINT and nuclear detection sensors on drones run by the CIA (and other three-letter agencies) and possibly better cameras, but the general technology is fairly well-known.

And, it's fairly easy to know what's in the models potentially used by police agencies.
The argument is should authorities have the right to spy on the public without warrants? Are we giving them too much power.

Why are we being treated like criminals for no reason other than "for our own protection".
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