In the latest backlash to the opening of the national airspace to unmanned systems Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has introduced a bill that would make it illegal for unmanned aircraft to conduct surveillance without a legal warrant.
“Like other tools used to collect information in law enforcement, in order to use drones a warrant needs to be issued,” Paul said Tuesday. “Americans going about their everyday lives should not be treated like criminals or terrorists and have their rights infringed upon by military tactics.”
While the ability for law enforcement to utilize new technology (sometimes military grade technology) is nothing new the use of unmanned aircraft for civil surveillance is a recent change that has yet to be tested in the courts. As law enforcement moves to expand UAV use lawmakers and the public take steps to put boundaries up – the ensuing race will inevitably define the legal limits of this surveillance technology. With history as a guide it is likely that surveillance of public places will be upheld while privacy will be assumed only when out of the public eye. Time (and the courts) will tell.