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Feds under pressure to open US skies to drones (edited)

phildozer9121

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Feds under pressure to open US skies to drones - Yahoo! News

The Federal Aviation Administration has been asked to issue flying rights for a range of pilotless planes to carry out civilian and law-enforcement functions but has been hesitant to act. Officials are worried that they might plow into airliners, cargo planes and corporate jets that zoom around at high altitudes, or helicopters and hot air balloons that fly as low as a few hundred feet off the ground.

On top of that, these pilotless aircraft come in a variety of sizes. Some are as big as a small airliner, others the size of a backpack. The tiniest are small enough to fly through a house window.

Is it just me or does this not make your skin crawl? Nevermind crashing into stuff, but these drones are routinely used to blow people to pieces instantly.

Now I'm not usually one to get paranoid, but honestly even traffic cameras make me unconfortable.

Where is the limit?
 

MKULTRABOY

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I do not advocate the usage of drones as long as the federal government has fears that they are a plausible danger to other air traffic. But if you are afraid of traffic cameras and think they're going to use them to spy on people or yourself... well... I'll politely say you're mistaken.
 

Ockham

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I could have sworn that a few years ago, the whole domestic spying thing was a big political issue with Democrats claiming a fascist tinge from Washington. Now of course there's no such out cry, yet the potential for domestic spying is expanding. It's only fascist if the OTHER political party is in power.
 

d0gbreath

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Those would be fun to shoot down.
 

rathi

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As long as drones are safe enough to other air traffic, they should be allowed. Whether the government should use them to observe its citizens is a different matter entirely. You can allow a technology without letting it be used in abusive ways.
 

Ikari

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They should keep it how it is and forbid the drones. Nothing good will come of it.
 

RightinNYC

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Is it just me or does this not make your skin crawl? Nevermind crashing into stuff, but these drones are routinely used to blow people to pieces instantly.

Military drones loaded with weapons and bombs are used to blow people to pieces instantly.
Civilian drones used for law enforcement purposes are not.

Moreover, there's no reason to assume that these are being used for "spying" or any other improper purpose. The question really comes down to whether these drones would be any more dangerous or intrusive than a helicopter or plane in a similar situation. I can't see how they would.
 

Ikari

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Moreover, there's no reason to assume that these are being used for "spying" or any other improper purpose.

There's no reason to assume that they won't. The government is always to be mistrusted, the founders were clear on that one. And rightfully so. Any entity which wields the power and sovereignty of the People must be distrusted. So the question isn't whether this is more dangerous or intrusive than a helicopter or plane, but rather why can't they use a helicopter or plane? Why do they need more and more things to keep an eye on all of us? What is the purpose of using these drones, what will they eventually use if for, can it be expanded even further against the people? These are proper questions.
 

Ockham

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Military drones loaded with weapons and bombs are used to blow people to pieces instantly.
Civilian drones used for law enforcement purposes are not.

Moreover, there's no reason to assume that these are being used for "spying" or any other improper purpose. The question really comes down to whether these drones would be any more dangerous or intrusive than a helicopter or plane in a similar situation. I can't see how they would.

I'll use the same argument used about the Arizona immigration bill ... the "potential" for inappropriate use exists and therefore since these drones "could" be used for spying in the hands of government or law enforcement or "could" be used for nefarious purposes... these drones therefore should not be used. The point being - if people distrust the government, the use of words such as "inappropriate", "dangerous" and "intrusive" are subjective words meaning nothing. Perhaps defining a narrow scope of use and providing civilian oversight of their use would make it more palatable.
 

tacomancer

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I'll use the same argument used about the Arizona immigration bill ... the "potential" for inappropriate use exists and therefore since these drones "could" be used for spying in the hands of government or law enforcement or "could" be used for nefarious purposes... these drones therefore should not be used. The point being - if people distrust the government, the use of words such as "inappropriate", "dangerous" and "intrusive" are subjective words meaning nothing. Perhaps defining a narrow scope of use and providing civilian oversight of their use would make it more palatable.

I see no problem with it if they replace the role of police helicoptors or planes to search for lost people in the woods or whatever. If there is a new role, I would like that scrutinized very closely.
 

Gray_Fox_86

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There's no reason to assume that they won't. The government is always to be mistrusted, the founders were clear on that one. And rightfully so. Any entity which wields the power and sovereignty of the People must be distrusted. So the question isn't whether this is more dangerous or intrusive than a helicopter or plane, but rather why can't they use a helicopter or plane? Why do they need more and more things to keep an eye on all of us? What is the purpose of using these drones, what will they eventually use if for, can it be expanded even further against the people? These are proper questions.
You know that the government tracks all postings on the internet? So what you just said has been recorded by the government. Why? Because the internet has no privacy. This is seen as the last frontier for freedom of speech and press but still the government can easily track you if they want to. They won't even need unmanned drones to see what you are writing or what you look like.

I had a contact inside the NSA who said the government can use the camera on your pc to record what your face looks like but they wouldn't even need that if you post pics of yourself on the internet or if they are on your pc. There is more no privacy and did you know the government has said that they would respect your right to privacy but that does not mean they don't know stuff about you that you hold so dear.

Also look on the back of your calculator if you have one here what is says:
The Following Text is for the US only.
This device complies with the PART 15 of the FCC rules.
Operation is subject to the following two conditions.
(a) This device may not cause harmful interference AND
(b) This device must accept any interference received including interference that may cause undesired operation.
 

RightinNYC

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There's no reason to assume that they won't. The government is always to be mistrusted, the founders were clear on that one. And rightfully so. Any entity which wields the power and sovereignty of the People must be distrusted. So the question isn't whether this is more dangerous or intrusive than a helicopter or plane, but rather why can't they use a helicopter or plane? Why do they need more and more things to keep an eye on all of us? What is the purpose of using these drones, what will they eventually use if for, can it be expanded even further against the people? These are proper questions.

They would use these instead of planes because it's cheaper. I just don't see how it's that big a deal.

Imagine that a district had 5 police helicopters flying around to keep an eye on things. If they upgraded that to 10, there would be few complaints. Why is it that adding 5 drones would be more dangerous to privacy than adding 5 manned helicopters?

I understand and am not entirely unsympathetic to the idea that more police = dangerous to privacy, but if they're perfectly entitled to do it with manned helicopters, there doesn't seem to be a very good argument for why they couldn't do it with unmanned ones.

I'll use the same argument used about the Arizona immigration bill ... the "potential" for inappropriate use exists and therefore since these drones "could" be used for spying in the hands of government or law enforcement or "could" be used for nefarious purposes... these drones therefore should not be used. The point being - if people distrust the government, the use of words such as "inappropriate", "dangerous" and "intrusive" are subjective words meaning nothing. Perhaps defining a narrow scope of use and providing civilian oversight of their use would make it more palatable.

Is the potential for misuse or inappropriate use any more serious than if the drones were manned? If not, then what's the rationale for treating them differently than regular police helicopters.
 

Ockham

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Is the potential for misuse or inappropriate use any more serious than if the drones were manned? If not, then what's the rationale for treating them differently than regular police helicopters.

I'd argue there's a higher potential for misuse as there's no traceable view of a person in the vehicle as it's remotely flown. For example, if a drone was used inappropriatly and had to land or crash landed, there's no "person" there to attribute accountability. A manned vehicle obviously has obvious accountability. Again, perhaps if drones are used - those drones would have to attribute an operator and flight plan the same as any other aircraft and it would have to follow the same rules and regulations per the FCC without exception. If there is a higher potential for misuse - it is my opinion, that these devices should not be used domestically.
 

Ikari

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You know that the government tracks all postings on the internet? So what you just said has been recorded by the government. Why? Because the internet has no privacy. This is seen as the last frontier for freedom of speech and press but still the government can easily track you if they want to. They won't even need unmanned drones to see what you are writing or what you look like.

I had a contact inside the NSA who said the government can use the camera on your pc to record what your face looks like but they wouldn't even need that if you post pics of yourself on the internet or if they are on your pc. There is more no privacy and did you know the government has said that they would respect your right to privacy but that does not mean they don't know stuff about you that you hold so dear.

Also look on the back of your calculator if you have one here what is says:

I'm aware the government does unconstitutional things. I just don't see why we should give them more tools to do unconstitutional things. You've also hit upon why I think the NSA should be disbanded. I never trusted the NSA. It's one of the biggest employers of PhD Mathematicians. When they need that many mathematicians (outside academia), you know they are up to something dirty.
 

Gray_Fox_86

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I'm aware the government does unconstitutional things. I just don't see why we should give them more tools to do unconstitutional things. You've also hit upon why I think the NSA should be disbanded. I never trusted the NSA. It's one of the biggest employers of PhD Mathematicians. When they need that many mathematicians (outside academia), you know they are up to something dirty.
Its not unconstiutional though. The constitution never mentions that privacy will be protected outside of what people do outside of the house and even then. The government-NSA-already has the know how and they do implement the technology to track things that you'd think no one would know. Privacy is gone the NSA is one of the scaries agencies because not much is known on them. Most of their employees keep hush hush on what they do. Because they know that everything they say outloud or type on the computer is being recorded. Also most of what you write during your years at public schools is copied and sent back to the NSA. Its scary because things you'd believe was secret are not. But don't let that fool scare you. The government can put an end to most crimes but they don't because one of their policies is to allow people to act like people so the guys and women who do know won't do anything to hurt you. They are not interested in the majority of people.
 

Ikari

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The Constitution does mention that the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. So the data mining that the NSA does is most certainly unconstitutional. As I said, I know the government already does unconstitutional things, I don't see the need to give them further tools for it. They may monitor and record illegally, but that doesn't mean I should excuse it. And the NSA does need to be shut down.
 

Deuce

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Pilot checking to say NO THANKS.

A drone pilot will lack the situational awareness required to keep the plane from becoming a collision hazard. Since these would presumably be used in fair weather so that they could see whatever thing on the ground they wanted to look at, they'd be a serious risk for VFR (visual flight rules) pilots who might not even be talking to an air traffic controller. Drones are piloted by guys sitting at a computer screen. They don't have visual capability to properly spot other aircraft. The screen has far worse resolution than the human eye, and there's no peripheral vision. Worse, the drone pilot's attention will likely be on the ground "target."

It's one thing to do this in a war zone, where there are far fewer aircraft, the military aircraft mostly have on-board radar or assistance from AWACS aircraft, and the mission has coordination amongst other aircraft in the area. Civilian pilots lack that sort of equipment and coordination, and domestic airspace is a lot busier than Iraq or Afghanistan.

No. Around here, your pilot needs eyeballs. Human eyeballs.

The "see and avoid" concept is fundamental and integral to our airspace.
 
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hazlnut

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RightinNYC

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I'd argue there's a higher potential for misuse as there's no traceable view of a person in the vehicle as it's remotely flown. For example, if a drone was used inappropriatly and had to land or crash landed, there's no "person" there to attribute accountability. A manned vehicle obviously has obvious accountability. Again, perhaps if drones are used - those drones would have to attribute an operator and flight plan the same as any other aircraft and it would have to follow the same rules and regulations per the FCC without exception. If there is a higher potential for misuse - it is my opinion, that these devices should not be used domestically.

Pilot checking to say NO THANKS.

A drone pilot will lack the situational awareness required to keep the plane from becoming a collision hazard. Since these would presumably be used in fair weather so that they could see whatever thing on the ground they wanted to look at, they'd be a serious risk for VFR (visual flight rules) pilots who might not even be talking to an air traffic controller. Drones are piloted by guys sitting at a computer screen. They don't have visual capability to properly spot other aircraft. The screen has far worse resolution than the human eye, and there's no peripheral vision. Worse, the drone pilot's attention will likely be on the ground "target."

It's one thing to do this in a war zone, where there are far fewer aircraft, the military aircraft mostly have on-board radar or assistance from AWACS aircraft, and the mission has coordination amongst other aircraft in the area. Civilian pilots lack that sort of equipment and coordination, and domestic airspace is a lot busier than Iraq or Afghanistan.

No. Around here, your pilot needs eyeballs. Human eyeballs.

The "see and avoid" concept is fundamental and integral to our airspace.

These are both very legitimate concerns.

I would imagine that the first could be ameliorated by having some sort of rigorous oversight program whereby individual drones were only used in preapproved fashions and there were random checks to ensure that officers weren't using them inappropriately. There's certainly a new risk of misuse, but that's the case with every technological advancement that occurs.

The second is harder, but I wonder if it could nevertheless be addressed. Since they're not being used for covert purposes, I don't see why they couldn't paint them bright colors and mount flashing beacons on them so as to ensure that other aircraft are aware of their presence. Also, having a second "pilot" present in the UAV command room charged with watching the sky around the plane rather than the action on the ground could help the UAV take proactive measures to evade trouble.

I look at it this way - police helicopters generally provide a very necessary service by helping officials understand developing crises and track fleeing criminals. It's very rare that a police helicopter actually lands to unload officers who get involved in the situation. If all it's doing is observing, why do we need a huge helicopter staffed by 2-4 police officers flying around up there? A smaller craft with one or two people in an office monitoring the scene would be both cheaper and safer.
 

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Its not unconstiutional though. The constitution never mentions that privacy will be protected outside of what people do outside of the house...

True that physical privacy is not protected, but that is not the only facet of privacy... how about mental privacy [to your thoughts, ideas,secrets, etc], or the right to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures" as stated by the 4th Amendment?
 
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Deuce

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The second is harder, but I wonder if it could nevertheless be addressed. Since they're not being used for covert purposes, I don't see why they couldn't paint them bright colors and mount flashing beacons on them so as to ensure that other aircraft are aware of their presence. Also, having a second "pilot" present in the UAV command room charged with watching the sky around the plane rather than the action on the ground could help the UAV take proactive measures to evade trouble.

I look at it this way - police helicopters generally provide a very necessary service by helping officials understand developing crises and track fleeing criminals. It's very rare that a police helicopter actually lands to unload officers who get involved in the situation. If all it's doing is observing, why do we need a huge helicopter staffed by 2-4 police officers flying around up there? A smaller craft with one or two people in an office monitoring the scene would be both cheaper and safer.

Flashing beacons and bright colors don't actually help that much in daylight. Every aircraft is already equipped with flashing beacon lights, but in daytime these are really mostly useful for ground operations. Also, video screens aren't nearly as good as the human eye for spotting planes. Maybe some sort of non-visible spectrum camera would work. The equivalent to "night-vision goggles" except designed around spotting metal objects against a sky. Radar-cam, or something.
 
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