News Digest

Domestic Drones: Report Exposes Expansion of Surveillance Flights

November 14, 2014

The American government has expanded the use of drones along the border of Mexico without informing the public about it very much. Drones stretch across the almost 2,000 mile border, and are monitoring everything. Many people have been concerned about drones and how they are used. Some think that it puts the nation at risk for becoming surveyed too much, and constantly being watched. This secret border patrol program has sent at least 10,000 drones on missions since March of 2013. The ACLU is against this use of drones. They say that if we continue then it will “profoundly change the character of public life in America.” We are slowly moving towards a society where every move we make is surveyed. The executive director of national air security says that we shouldn’t worry right now because the drones can’t recognize many details. They can’t register faces or license plates.

LAPD Technology That Tracks Ex-Cons Stirs Concerns

November 14, 2014

The LAPD relies on a lot of technology to catch criminals. So far, they say that it has decreased the amount of crime in the city. The federal government just gave them $400,000 to improve their program even more. They have named the program and technology LASER. The CIA developed the technology. Officials from around the country have been briefed on this program, and are looking into using it. The program has proved that it definitely lowers crime in places that it is being used compared to places that aren’t using it, but privacy advocates aren’t sure that’s enough. The problem is that it risks targeting minorities, and also puts some bias on those who have already committed crimes. Some think that information on an individual she be gotten rid of is they haven’t committed a crime in over 6 months, but there isn’t any rule for that.

Americans Fear Eroding Policy Online

November 12, 2014

This article is about a study that was released on Wednesday. It showed that Americans are very concerned about there privacy online and digitally. Most Americans associated privacy with security. If they didn’t feel like something was secure, then they didn’t think that they had any privacy. They don’t control what companies collect, and what they do with it. The study asked people about their confidence in landline phones, mobile phones, text messages, email, instant messaging, and social media. All of them scored very low.   The highest one was landline phones, but only 16% of people had confidence in it. Most people are concerned about their social security number, and things like that, but not many were concerned with things like their political views or their personal shopping habits. The study didn’t see if Americans were changing their behavior, but it showed that many are concerned about their privacy.

Watch What Happens When a Photographer Secretly Taps into Public Surveillance Cameras

November 13, 2014

A photographer hacked into a networked CCTV camera to spy on people that didn’t know. He wanted to give people an idea about how modern surveillance doesn’t give you a lot of privacy on an artistic way. He realized that many cameras didn’t have passwords and started hacking into things like parking lot cameras. He eventually found the camera that he liked the best. The camera could pan, zoom in, and adjust the exposure. He says that he didn’t hack into anything because it was accessible to the public. He noticed people patterns, and the pictures he took weren’t clear enough to see their face so it left some anonymity. He wanted to expose what the security cameras see all the time, and show us what they saw.

Fed Up With Dragnet Government Surveillance

November 13, 2014

‘Fed up with dragnet government surveillance’

This article is about a new way to send email without it being read by Yahoo, Google, Apple, the government, or hackers. A new, private, email service, called, encrypts your emails. There has been a lot of interest in this already. This website is supposed to make it easy to encrypt everything for you. It makes encryption available to those who don’t really know how to do it.   There is no advertising revenue for in the company so they make their profit from subscriptions. As soon as this takes off, millions of people’s emails will suddenly become private and secure.

Drones: Are They Helpful in Reporting the News or an Invasion of Privacy

Drones can be very useful to individuals and our country, like take photo and video for real estate, surveying crops, and capturing crimes.  The only question is: Where’s the line between surveilling to be useful and invading privacy?  They’re becoming more available for everyone to use so everyone can spy on everyone.  The military can use them to help combat terrorists and enemies.  The news and media are also starting to use them for the purpose of finding out information that they wouldn’t be able to get otherwise. They’re also being used by the police to look for missing people, and help keep crimes from happening, but there’s a line between invading people’s privacy and surveilling a situation.

Drones are becoming more commercial. People are concerned whether or not it’s invading their personal privacy. Many people against the use of drones say that it’s a violation of the fourth amendment. Justice Sonia Sotomayor is concerned about the potential of drones taking away our personal privacy, which we all care so much about. “There are drones flying over the air randomly that are recording everything that’s happening on what we consider our private property. That type of technology has to stimulate us to think about what is it that we cherish in privacy and how far we want to protect it and from whom.”

Drones are very useful in the military sense, including surveillance of our borders, in order to keep us safe.  Many are very small and very quiet so it’s easy for them to keep tabs on what is below, without anyone noticing or being a large distraction. They can also survey the land above in areas such as a forest that are difficult to search on land. In a time of war, this could be useful to help find enemies that would otherwise be hidden by the trees from above.  They can give immediate feedback and report about where an enemy is, and keep them from advancing or causing any more harm.  Chad Copeland, who’s a National Geographic contributor and a pioneer in the use of drones, said that drones aren’t as intrusive as a man-powered aircraft, and less dangerous if they were to crash.  As long as they warn people that it’s possible that they may be used then they have a right to use them.

Sotomayor said, “We are in that brave new world, and we are capable of being in that Orweillian one, too.” These drones could be just as much surveillance as the Thought Police in Orwell’s book.  Just like the secret spies that were all around in 1984, there could be drones flying through the air collecting video surveillance of you all the time. “’The thought of government drones buzzing overhead and constantly monitoring the activities of law-abiding citizens runs contrary to what it means to live in a free society,’ Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa said at a Judiciary Committee hearing on whether legislation on drones was needed to protect civil liberties.” This is a very valid point for those that don’t like drones.  They can see things that others don’t want them to see.  A person could have something hidden, but it could be reported very easily for someone with a drone.

Even though drones can seem very invasive to our personal privacy, they can also be very useful and help our society report the news and gather information.   They can help keep crimes from happening, find missing persons, and fight fires. They are also useful in “alerting officers about accidents and crimes and provide video of the incidents.”  They can get in really close to a celebrities window to see inside.  They can get very close on a report of a plane accident.  They could even get close enough to see a dead body.  They could end up finding something secret that could get them in trouble.  All of these things sound almost like a good thing.  The line is very thin on where it is finding out information, and going too far and invading privacy.  It can be really wonderful, but easily become very bad very quickly.

There should be a difference between public and private places.  No one should be able to use drones on private property without consent or a warrant.  A person or people could use their own drown as a way to survey their own grounds.  It would give the News information very quickly, and could get in areas that normal cameras couldn’t.  Anything on public property should be open to have a drone on it at anytime.  There may be a few exceptions, like if a crime were to happen they couldn’t allow a drone in a certain radius distance.  Besides that, public should be public for drones too.

The Federal Aviation Administration has a ban on drones for commercial purposes at the moment. They are deciding on the rules and regulations for these types of uses this coming fall. The FAA has a lot to take into consideration and many things to watch for before they release their regulations this fall.  In California, law enforcement officers that use drones are required to get a warrant, according to Bill AB 1327. There are exceptions to this rule for emergency situations, search and rescue efforts, traffic first responders, and inspection of wildfires. California will be the 14th state in regulating law enforcement drone use if they sign this bill.  A warrant is necessary because it will keep people from snooping without another person knowing and for the wrong reasons.

Drones can be very useful in reporting news if these guidelines are followed.  It’s not an invasion of privacy if these strict rules stated above are followed.  Anything on public property should be allowed because it can find news faster, find it at a new/different/better angle, look for something much faster than by foot, give a lot of detail, live stream, and be given to a news agency by anyone with a drone.