Monday, June 11, 2012

Drones, Cameras and Regulations

            One of the hot topics on the radar currently is the use of drones within the boundaries of the United States.  The use by Law Enforcement is just the next step from helicopters and fixed wing aircraft surveillance.  Law Enforcement agencies have been using airborne surveillance for decades, checking on illegal crops, following suspects, monitoring traffic and so on.  Drones will be doing the same thing with the only difference being the pilot will be sitting at a console on the ground instead of in the pilots’ seat.  Yes there are the possibilities of the Law Enforcement misusing drones, but then again these are the people that we have elected or hired to carry guns and keep us safe, being normal people themselves there will always be the chance of the misuse of their powers, it’s a chance we have chosen to take.  Use of drones by non-Law Enforcement agencies, well that is horse of a completely different color.  Unfortunately it is the same color our politicians like to wear.

            Use of drones or any type of enhanced surveillance by the FDA, EPA or any other non-law enforcement alphabet agency is just one more step to the nanny state our politicians are trying to create.  Increased regulations, increased monitoring, and decreased personal choices are all stepping stones toward total control of our personal lives.  I for one do not want the loss of my choices, do you?  What intrigues me is that the ones that you typically find pushing for increased regulations and increased Government, the ones that benefit the most, are also the ones that will cry the loudest when their choices, rights, etc… are impeded upon.  The real question is not about the use of the drones, it’s about regulations and their enforcement, it’s about what the Government is doing and what they have the power to do.

            The use of drones has been argued to be against the Constitution, really, just where in the Constitution does it say that?  If you answered the 4th Amendment you guessed wrong.  The 4th Amendment could actually be construed to support the use of drones.  The 4th Amendment prevents the Federal Government from passing any laws that would infringe on “the right of the People to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures”.  Being secure is a far cry from privacy.  Being secure could be used to justify Law Enforcement use of drones over our homes looking for the bad guys that threaten our security.  The right to privacy scam has been used to argue against red light cameras and security cameras in public places; exactly what privacy or security is being violated if you are in a public place?  OK, you can’t run the red light without getting caught and having to pay a fine, it’s not as easy to pick a pocket or assault someone on the sidewalk if there are cameras around, but I’m still not seeing a right to privacy issue or a 4th Amendment issue.  Of course the alternative would be to hire more Police Officers to sit at every red light taking down tag numbers of those running red lights and to put on every city sidewalk to watch us, but that would just turn the argument into one about jack booted thugs and the Police State we would be living in.

            Just to be clear on my stance about drones, public cameras and our supposed right to privacy, I’m not a fan of drones and cameras on every corner.  I do think it is an invasion of privacy, even the small amount of privacy we have when we are out in public.  What I don’t agree with is that it is a Constitutional problem.  I do believe our Federal Government is grossly abusing their power with the regulations and the use of drones to enforce those regulations.  I would like to feel safe and secure in and around my own home, I would like to believe that I’m not being watched by unseen eyes every time I walk into my yard, not for illegal or nefarious reasons, it’s simply a matter of personal choice.  Personal choice is being taken away from the American People with every new regulation and law that is written, only the American People can change that, if they want to.  I am really starting to wonder if the People do not want to take personal responsibility, the People, in general, like the Government making choices for them.  I’m not sure if it’s because of a loss of individuality or if it’s because they believe the Government has the power to push personal agendas on everyone else.  Americans seem to really like pushing beliefs on others whether those others want that belief or not.

Steve Avery