Surveillance Takes Wing: Privacy in the Age of Police Drones
Cato Institute
Dec 24, 2016

“Unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as ‘drones,’ are being used in a range of industries, including conservation, journalism, archeaology, and policing. (In this paper I will use the word ‘drone’ to apply to unmanned aerial vehicles, excluding unmanned aquatic vehicles and terrestrial robots.) Law enforcement drones have clear benefits: allowing police to more easily find missing persons, suspects, and accident victims, for example. They also allow police to investigate dangerous situations such as bomb threats and toxic spills. Yet without strict controls on their use, drones could present a very serious threat to citizens’ privacy. Regrettably, while the Supreme Court has tackled privacy issues amid the emergence of new technologies, the Court’s rulings on aerial surveillance are not well suited for today, now that police are using drones.”

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