The Common Good

DRONE WATCH: Drones Over the U.S.

While we have been focusing on drones as weapons of war – killing by drone – controversy over the domestic use of drones is also growing. Police forces across the U.S. have become enamored by surveillance drones that can be used in law enforcement. But that has led to a rise in local governments beginning to strictly regulate their use or banning them. The New York Times reports on these efforts:

“To me, it’s Big Brother in the sky,” said Dave Norris, a city councilman in Charlottesville, Va., which this month became the first city in the country to restrict the use of drones. “I don’t mean to sound conspiratorial about it, but these drones are coming, and we need to put some safeguards in place so they are not abused.” … Last week, the Seattle Police Department agreed to return its two still-unused drones to the manufacturer after Mayor Michael McGinn answered public protests by banning their use.”

Some states have adopted moratoriums on drones pending further study, others are considering proposals that would require search warrants for their use. It is heartening that the objections are coming before drones are flying over all of us, rather than attempting to stop them when it is already too late.