United States of Afghanistan. Unmanned 'drones' coming to your back yard soon
Universities, law-enforcement agencies win approval to use drones for their use
Dozens of universities and law-enforcement agencies have won approval by
federal aviation regulators to use unmanned aircraft known as drones.
That thing over your shoulder may not be a mosquito -- it could be an unmanned drone, brought back from Afghanistan for civilian use.
Released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the matter came to light as the Federal Aviation Administration gears up to advance the widespread use of the drones. By the year 2015, Congress wants the agency to integrate remotely piloted aircraft throughout U.S. airspace.
The Mesa County Sheriff's Department in Colorado tested a drone with an infrared camera, measuring about 36 inches wide.
Although the documents don't indicate how the aircraft will be used, there are putting forth privacy concerns from the general public.
Democratic Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas asked the acting administrator of the FAA last week to answer questions about the privacy implications of increased drone use.
"Many drones are designed to carry surveillance equipment, including video cameras, infrared thermal imagers, radar and wireless network 'sniffers,'" the representatives wrote.
The FAA did add that "the responsibility to ensure that the privacy of individuals is protected and that the public is fully informed about who is using drones in public airspace and why."
As part of the push to increase uses of civilian drones, nearly 50 companies are developing some 150 different systems, ranging from miniature models to those with wingspans comparable to airliners.
The FAA says it has approved dozens of nonmilitary uses of unmanned aircraft, ranging from law enforcement to firefighting to wildlife monitoring. Drones also have been used for news coverage, mapping and agricultural applications.
For example, the University of North Dakota uses drones in connection with an undergraduate degree program in unmanned aircraft systems it started in 2009.
In addition, the North Little Rock police department has been working with a small pilotless helicopter since 2008, Sgt. Pat Thessing says.
Currently, the department is only training with the aircraft over unpopulated areas only, while it awaits FAA rules for use of such aircraft elsewhere. It hopes to use them for surveillance of high-crime neighborhoods, during drug investigations and other work.
In addition, recipients of these special permits must fly in a certain geographic area outlined on their application. The FAA typically doesn't allow drones to fly through airspace where commercial, business and private planes travel.
Ryan Calo, who conducts research into privacy and robotics at Stanford Law School, says the use of such aircraft will become more common.
"The very same drone that was staking out a nest of insurgents and possibly shooting them could be deployed in New York for surveillance" after removal of weaponry, Calo said. He said the use of drones could spark a wider debate about privacy because people aren't accustomed to such technology. "If you bring back a tank from Afghanistan, you don't expect it to show up in a park," he said.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Politics & Policy News
- Marriage Liberation Movement: Global Defense of Marriage in France, China and Around the World
- Principles are expensive: Republican governors missing out on billions in Medicaid funds
- Rush Limbaugh is Wrong, Karen Finney of MSNBC is Nuts: Pope Francis and Capitalism
- NSA REVELATIONS: Ways that would have been previously unimaginable
- Gap between rich and poor: Income gap threatens U.S. 'way of life,' Obama says
- Increasing numbers of young people opposing Obamacare
- Vatican, State Department defend embassy move
- Precedent set by Obama may lead to revolt against federal government, expert says
- Oops, we didn't think of that! Utah may pull NSA plug by cutting water supply to facility
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?