Because freedom can't protect itself
I'm a retired police officer. I served for 24 years in many different capacities. I agree with the views expressed in this article. The guide lines by the Chiefs Association is a nice first step, to at least acknowledge some of the issues regarding the use of drones.
However, as I know your're aware of that this association has no real authority over anything. They can make recommendations forever, but it doesn't mean anything. There certainly does need to be new Federal and State laws put into place. Holding the poor beat officer accountable by these new laws, mostly as the scapegoat, can be fairly easy.
What is of paramount importance, is the ability to hold the command staff of these agencies accountable. It's very rare that any law enforcement agency takes responsibility for anything. They're very quick to throw the individual officer to the wolves, whenever there is a very public and controversial incident.
I read the Recommended Guidelines and my questions or concerns are;
* There is obviously an enormous amount of grey area
* Its suggested agencies hold themselves accountable, that won't happen
* Community Engagement section is impractical for most agencies
* Operational Procedures section of public notifications not practical in any active incident
* Police agencies should never be allowed to arm any drone
My question to you would be, can these agencies just fall back on any previous case law regarding Police Helicopters? I do a small amount of blogging and I will be placing a link to your article on my site.
R.Frazer, thanks for your thoughtful comment. It is interesting to hear your perspective as a retired police officer.
Yes it is true that these guidelines are a long way from constituting any kind of fix for the privacy issues around drones, or assurance that drones won't be used in ways we don't like. I probably should have said that in the post.
On your question about helicopter case law, I think that if nothing is done proactively to protect privacy around drones, that is what police agencies will do -- and as we said in our December drones report, existing laws are not enough to protect our privacy. Especially given that drones will be much cheaper and more common than helicopters, and therefore more likely to be over-used and mis-used than expensive manned craft. It's true that drones are like helicopters in many ways, but quantity changes quality and with drones we're in a whole new world.
I am a UAS operator, designer and reseller.
I believe that we SHOULD regulate UAS use but I wonder if all the hype on privacy is limiting the public's understanding of other uses that most civilians would in fact support. I design military grade UAS and have personally refused to offer them for military use. On the other hand what I do like to see them used for is for Search and Rescue, Mapping and wildland observation for fire issues etc. If we only allow Governmental uses and then under a warrant only, we lose the potentual for some serious public good. We need to separate the intended uses of the systems. this issue is no different than when cell phones first started showing up with cameras etc, let's not assume all people packing a cell phone will use the recordings and pictures illegally. That is the message preached here..."Do'nt save data ect assuming all Americans will need to be watched..." If that is the case, that to should apply on UAS. Transparency is important as is the understanding that not all "Drones" are intended to spy etc. Most civilian companies do not have the capability to purchase the "Spy" brand of cameras and payloads the larger Federal and State governments can. They simply just want to take pictures of nature, do mapping and aerial based filmaking. For us, that's where the money and passion is...
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