Mar 11 2013
Drone Legislation and the #Constitution by Kelsey Farnham
Drone operators say rapidly evolving drone technology is already reshaping disaster response, crime scene reconstruction, crisis management and tactical operations. They add that drones can be extraordinarily useful, from crop monitoring to water management and a whole host of emergency and life-saving functions.
But politicians’ concerns speak to mounting questions about just how and when such powerful technology should be used. Critics of U.S. domestic drone use worry about privacy and safety.
This all began when Senator Rand Paul repeatedly requested additional information from Attorney General Eric Holder concerning whether “the President has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial.”
Eleven states have now introduced legislation to regulate the purchasing, and usage of domestic drones. Some cities are considering banning them altogether. These bans would directly conflict with federal regulations from the FAA but are being discussed on Tuesday of next week. Discussions would include creating “No Drone Zones” as well as forbidding law enforcement offices from purchasing drone technology.
South Carolina’s drone legislation was recently introduced in the House. It prohibits the use of drones without a warrant. It makes mass surveillance on just anyone illegal without a warrant or a sufficient criminal cause. It would also require that photographs of people that are taken by drones be destroyed unless they’re part of an authorized investigation. “It’s a privacy issue and it’s a bill of rights issue. We are protected by the bill of rights to not be searched on our own property without a warrant,” said Rep. Dan Hamilton.
Whether drones will aid law enforcement in keeping U.S. cities safer, the topic needed to be brought forward and opened up to discussion. Rand Paul spoke bravely on the issue during his filibuster last week. Paul said, “I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.”
Rand Paul stood on the Senate floor for almost 13 hours. He made the #Constitution trend on Twitter nationwide. Fourteen other senators then joined Paul, including democratic Senator Wyden, proving that this isn’t a Republican vs. Democrat issue, It’s a freedom vs. tyranny issue.