Spying on Americans rising rapidly as warrantless use of undercover police, drones increases
by: J. D. Heyes
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
There was a time when ordinary citizens still had an expectation of the right to privacy, even in public, but as technology has improved over the past generation, so has the government’s ability to get around the Constitution and the rule of law when it comes to keeping the common folk under surveillance.
We’re talking about more than just traffic light and city surveillance cameras. We’re talking about the use of undercover police to infiltrate otherwise peaceful groups, and employing drones to spy on citizens without proper legal authority to do so.
“There is no question that this could become something that people will regret,” said former U.S. Rep. Jane Harmon, D-Calif., on the use of federally owned drones by state and local police agencies. Harmon, a onetime chairperson of the House Intelligence Committee’s subcommittee on homeland security, said when federal agencies like Customs and Border Protection were first authorized by Congress to unarm Predator drones, use by local agencies was never discussed.
“Any time you have a tool like that in the hands of law enforcement that makes it easier to do surveillance, they will do more of it,” added Ryan Calo, director for privacy and robotics at the Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society.