Domestic drones as a threat to liberty

America’s use of drones against her foreign enemies, for surveillance and lethal strikes, has been notably successful. We are sure to build new and more advanced drones for similar uses, and to expand our naval power without placing aviators at risk.

Yet, something that has served so well in combat was sure to be proposed for domestic surveillance.

The risk to liberty, as Gene Healy observes, is profound:

Over the past decade, the creeping militarization of the homefront has proceeded almost unnoticed, with DHS grants subsidizing the proliferation of security cameras and military ordnance for local police departments.

On April 19, Reps. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Joe Barton, R-Texas, co-chairs of the Congressional Bipartisan Privacy Caucus, sent a letter to the head of the FAA urging the adoption of privacy protections, given the “potential for drone technology to enable invasive and pervasive surveillance.” But Congress needn’t wait on Obama’s FAA to start protecting Americans’ privacy rights.

It’s well past time we stopped sleepwalking toward dystopia and had a serious public debate about where the lines should be drawn.

We’ve developed the dangerous habit of taking the weapons and devices designed to defend Americans in war and then using them against our fellow citizens. The line between military and civilian should be much clearer.

See, Gene Healy @ Cato.

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