FBI has been using drones within the USA since 2006, watchdog agency says


Waiting to hear they’re also used occasionally for “LOVEINT.” Because what could possibly be creepier, short of actually dating Charles Manson?

Christ, what assholes.

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“Using drones” is an entirely reasonable activity, no different than flying a small plane with a spotter or positioning observers any other way.

The question is what’s being observed and whether they have appropriate approvals if it isn’t happening in public. (Remember, there is no presumption of privacy in public. You can take video of police on the street; they can take video of you on the street.)


I admit it’s an assumption on my part, but it appears there was no inquiry on their part to the legal use of drones. And that to me is the galling part. If they show no concern in that how can they be trusted to use them in any way?


Saw that coming. But you have to admit, considering the access to said materials is very, very limited, it’s a safe assumption…

Disagree strongly. What they describe having used this for is fairly standard policing; the only difference is that they’re using the drone to get a different angle of view on things that are already happening in public and that could have been viewed from a manned plane.

Difference in degree, maybe. Difference in kind, no. New legal issue, no – as long as they’re playing by the well-established existing rules for collecting and using evidence.

Potential for abuse, sure. Anything has potential for abuse.

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You realize you’re assuming that’s the case, right? And considering their history, that’s not a good one…

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Well, ask the simple question: what do these drones enable that they couldn’t already do with existing manned aircraft?

I honestly can’t think of anything. It’s just cheaper, that’s all.

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what Fang said.

people get all upset over “Drones”… my reaction is “yes…and?” or “So?”

Helicopters…Fixed Wing…also…Satellites…before that…hot air balloons and airships. so they are using drones? so what?

You want to have a debate about proper and improper use of aerial surveillance…go ahead. but can we not get all huffy because they are “drones”?

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It’s important to keep in mind cheaper means more potential for abuse. If you have to send a highly-trained four-man crew to the airport to take a specially equipped helicopter on an investigation, you’re not going to do it as frivolously as if you can send one of your hundred spare RC quadcopters. Which means that, as you go from one to the other, oversight needs to increase accordingly.

I would guess as a sort of general rule that if the public doesn’t know what you’re using, you probably need more oversight than what you have.


your quadcopter isn’t going to have upwards of 40 hours or loiter time and hence have very limited specific uses for pop up observation and situational awareness…not ongoing surveillance missions.
Additionally an MQ-9 “Reaper” drone…for example costs $16.9 million. a Bell Jet Ranger costs approx $1m per unit.

the cost savings dont materialize with Cost Per Hour of flight time…as Choppers require fuel etc…the same Jet Ranger can cost upwards of $750 and hour. and estimates put the Predator drones at over $3k per hour to operate.

They also have to cope with the same Air Traffic Control issues as “conventional” aircraft.

While the costs of Drone’s will eventually (one assumes) lower… at present it is by no means even remotely (see what I did there) more cost effective…unless you take into account risking the lives of live pilots in Rotor or Fixed wing piloted craft.

again…the reason to use a drone outside pilot survivability is for one other reason only… LOITER TIME.

being able to keep a bird on target for almost 2 days beats the crap out of a couple of hours with other means or the 15-45 minutes one might get out of a non-geosynchronus orbiting “keyhole” satellite.

I honestly think people just hear about “Drone Strikes” on the news and then freak out about “Drones” in general. I mean …I could mount a flame thrower on my Dodge…but that doesn’t mean all Dodges become combat ready.

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If the public isn’t paying attention, that doesn’t necessarily mean more oversight is needed.

If you find that something is happening which existing oversight hasn’t adequately addressed, THEN we need more/better oversight. Guessing that something might have been an issue is not sufficient evidence thereof. Drones, for the uses described here, don’t even represent a legitimate reason to suspect that such an instance has occurred.

Paranoia may not be enough, but direct it productively, please. Calling for more oversight is saying “someone else ought to do something”. Do you believe that enough to pay more taxes to put more people on staff to do that for you?

The cheap, field availability allows for a ease of promiscuous abuse, don’t you think? Besides you miss the broader point and I don’t want to parse to what is essentially “Well, what can you do about it?” arguments. I’m not ok with or consent to being searched at random by any device agencies want to use nor do I want to pay for them. I choose to vocalize this and make more people aware of what’s going on. It’s not much, but it’s better than just sitting on my hands. If you’re ok with being looked after, that’s your own look-out…

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That’s like saying cheap availability of spray paint allows for graffiti. It’s true, but (a) doesn’t mean that spray paint is any less useful or valid a tool, and (b) doesn’t mean that there’s reason to suspect every purchaser of spray paint will put it to criminal purposes.

We all agree that we want the government to be less paranoid. We need to be more selective about our own paranoia too.

Did you just equate painting graffiti with government agent abuse of surveillance?

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WOW! the police state apologists are thick today. WTF happened to BB? :frowning:

FAA: Fact Sheet – Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

FAA: Unmanned Aircraft (UAS) Questions and Answers

Would everyone involved in this discussion please read these, so the discussion could be a bit more… fact-based?

This is not new or illegal. I’m not sure what the LA Times writer means by ‘little public notice’, aside from maybe, “the public almost didn’t notice it.”

Mostly, they still don’t, I expect.

But, really, if you want to keep up with what public agencies and other civil operators are up to and what the FAA’s rules actually are, I’d suggest bookmarking this page:

FAA: Programs and Inititiatives: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

We now return you to the latest flesh-rotting zombie-drug hysteria.

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I think it’s worth mentioning at this point too that you’re highly unlikely to change my mind on this subject. The System in place is very flawed in its current state. Abuse of powers is rampant and most watch-dog agencies put in place to monitor and punish abuse have no teeth…