Monday, June 03, 2013

Does this count as a 'drone'? If cell-phone towers can fly, why not a 'Stingray'?

Via Ars Technica
Does a flying cell-phone tower count as a drone? You decide. The bill Texas just passed that's awaiting a decision by Gov. Perry would regulate images captured by "unmanned aircraft." And under that statute, " 'image' means any capturing of sound waves, thermal, infrared, ultraviolet, visible light, or other electromagnetic waves, odor, or other conditions existing on or about real property in this state or an individual located on that property." So arguably this use would be illegal under Texas' bill. Should it be? Grits is not so sure. I'm less concerned with cell-phone companies using drones this way than, say, if law enforcement were to install a Stingray device on an unmanned aircraft. The latter should be outright banned. The former may be perfectly appropriate in a regulated environment and could be a tremendous boon to rural areas with poor cell-phone coverage.

Grits believes there are a vast number of potential uses for "drones," far more than most people, and certainly most Texas legislators, have properly considered. The Texas bill's principle saving grace is that, even if Gov. Perry signs it into law, it'll be a couple of years before the Federal Aviation Administration allows civilian drones in commercial airspace. So Texas will get another chance to get it right in 2015.

MORE: From EFF: How we need to regulate drones.



watchpaintdry said...

Damn if this site hasn't turned into nothing more than "put-on-your-tin-hat" ranting!
This site used to cover many more topics of interest. Shit, enough already with the paranoia.

Anonymous said...

@ watchpaintdry What specifically is an example of "put on your tin hat ranting?" Its great this site covers drones. You can't stick your head in the sand & hope this paranoia will go away. I use to state that the govt was planning to put up to 30,000 drones over the USA & I can't count the times I heard the nutjob, tin foil comment & I'll be damned if King Obama didn't sign it into law. Drones have been used on Nebraska, because the EPA's BS. Do you know what hay is considered to be? Go look it up. Since 911 the US govt has been overstepping its bounds by a long shot, taking away States rights as stated in the Constitution. The fed govt won't secure the borders but lets throw up 30,000 drones and this ain't no "tin foil ranting, just ranting. Hitler would be proud.

Anonymous said...

Drones should be used for border patrols, rescuing people, for natural disasters not for the govt to have its head up our ass and I'm sick of having the govt up our ass. I worry less about the terrorists than a govt that acts like one.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@watchpaintdry, this site isn't here for your daily news coverage but for my own purposes and interests, which lately have skewed toward electronic surveillance.

I could write, say, about prison closures but that's mere news - I was writing prolifically about prison closures 3-5 years ago pitching the idea. This site is often interested in what's next more than what is. That's what's going on here.

Finally, I'm not sure how it's paranoid to discuss a publicly reported technology (cell tower on a drone) and how it would be affected by a law that's passed the Lege and is awaiting the Governor's signature. It may sound futuristic but those are things happening today in the real world - all I'm doing is fleshing out the implications. Somebody has to.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with watchpaintdry. It seems like every other Grits' post these days has to do with drones or cell phone tracking. Enough already! This may be a topic that genuinely interests you, Grits, but I'm afraid you're beginning to lose the interest of a significant portion of your readership. I'm as conservative as they come and look to your blog for a little balance in my criminal justice system information. Now I'm starting to have a hard time distinguishing your positions from those of the tea party. If people are that paranoid about the government knowing where they're using their cell phones, then they should stick to the land lines. Problem solved. I'm also pretty sure that the government has had the capability via satellites to monitor our public movements. I haven't lost much sleep over that and I won't over the drone thing either.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

7:58 writes, "I'm afraid you're beginning to lose the interest of a significant portion of your readership"

Do not fear. I write this stuff for my own purposes. It's just not about you. Feel free to get your criminal justice information elsewhere, or I'm always happy to refund your admission fee.

I agree with the Tea Party when they're right and disagree with them when they're wrong. In this case I oppose the Tea Party backed drone bill and this post criticizes it for overreach. I'm not sure how you get from there to tin-foil hats and paranoia.

Anonymous said...

This is the first step in the process, And how the Terminators started.