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Rise of Drones in U.S. Drives Efforts to Limit Use by Police

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SOMINI SENGUPTA
NY Times
Feb 16, 2013

They can record video images and produce heat maps. They can be used to track fleeing criminals, stranded hikers — or just as easily, political protesters. And for strapped police departments, they are more affordable than helicopters.

Drones are becoming a darling of law enforcement authorities across the country. But they have given rise to fears of government surveillance, in many cases even before they take to the skies. And that has prompted local and state lawmakers from Seattle to Tallahassee to proscribe how they can be used by police or to ground them altogether.

Although surveillance technologies have become ubiquitous in American life, like license plate readers or cameras for catching speeders, drones have evoked unusual discomfort in the public consciousness.

“To me, it’s Big Brother in the sky,” said Dave Norris, a city councilman in Charlottesville, Va., which this month became the first city in the country to restrict the use of drones. “I don’t mean to sound conspiratorial about it, but these drones are coming, and we need to put some safeguards in place so they are not abused.”

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This article was posted: Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 6:41 am





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