Overheard on CNN.com: Unmanned drones ignite domestic surveillance debate
June 14th, 2012
10:30 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Unmanned drones ignite domestic surveillance debate

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Unmanned drones have gotten many readers talking. A Monmouth University poll showed there was strong support for using unmanned aircraft to track down criminals, combat illegal immigration or carry out search missions. On the other hand, respondents oppose using drones to do routine work such as patrolling traffic. Here on CNN.com, the thought of using drones to catch speeders, for example, has made some readers a little nervous.

A commenter using the nickname "Rand Paul" (we don't know if it's really the Kentucky senator) posted what became the comment of the day on Thursday's Mash-up post:

"I saw George Orwell riding on a drone last night. He was waving."

As it turns out, the real Sen. Rand Paul's opinion article about drones got many of our readers talking. Paul writes of the legislation he's introduced:

"This bill protects individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of these drones. The Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2012 will protect Americans' personal privacy by forcing the government to honor our Fourth Amendment rights."

Paul: Don't let drones invade our privacy

Should we fear drones? Readers who commented disagreed.

waltonsimons: "There are only two types of people who have anything to fear from surveillance drones: Those who have done something wrong, and those who haven't."

harmonizer: "You're half right."

In the article, Paul says the Obama administration "is not upholding nor abiding by the Constitution - in fact, this administration is going to great lengths to continually violate it."

Under the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which President Barack Obama signed in February, the Federal Aviation Administration is charged with developing a plan “for the safe integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system as soon as practicable, but not later than September 30, 2015.”

Readers debated whether the president should take the blame, with some disagreeing on that point.

Rhacman: "Is it Obama's fault that a police officer can drive down a public road and see you hosting your barbecue? Do you have grounds to sue someone for trespassing when they fly over your property in a commercial or personal aircraft? Do you expect police helicopter pilots to fly blindfolded? If you think you should own the sky over your property that is its own topic. Making this about Obama is a weak argument at best and just another example of divisive partisan politics during an election year at worst."

breakdown: "Obama extended the Patriot Act. He has endorsed using drones domestically. This isn't just a Republican thing. Both parties are very guilty of screwing over the Constitution."

So what would George Orwell, author of the oft-cited dystopian novel "1984," think about this?

THX1953: "Orwell is laughing at us from the grave."

SixthPlanet: "Orwell's spirit is weeping."

One person said there are many other intrusions into privacy that already exist.

sarahH: "I get that its upsetting. But is it that much different from a police car driving slowly by? A camera at the stoplight? Satellite views? Google maps? Helicopters flying over? Tracking where you spend your CC? How much money you transfer? GPS on your cell phone? License plates? Required ID? You already live in a nanny state."

This reader says speed cameras are totally different from drones.

ironman59: "The drones were designed for a specific purpose. Be stealth, capture events on video, take out selected targets with munitions. There is no need for this type of weapon to be flying over private homes. While I am against even cameras at busy intersections to monitor traffic, etc., they are different. In the case of a fixed camera, I have to go to the location to be seen. With the drones, they come to where I am and invade my privacy. They violate my constitutional right to unlawful search. Any time the military talks about 'protecting our freedom,' that is a signal we are about to lose more of it. However, many of the current problems exist from the prior administration starting two wars that were not justifiable and got the majority of the planet ticked off at the USA."

Maybe a new sport is in order.

stnsteal: "Forget duck hunting this year, boys. It's open season on drones."

Another reader urged fellow citizens to keep a watch of their own.

KamaraSune: "Everyone keep an eye out for how your elected leaders vote on this one ... should prove interesting."

BuffaloBill1: "I'm watching them from my own, private drone."

What do you think about drones? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Aviation • Crime • FAA • Overheard on CNN.com • Politics • Technology
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Philip

    I said "sinners" too, Joey. The US gov. has no authority over sinners. Many Americans don't even believe there is such a thing as sin, for example. And then there are those who confuse inherited sins (aka 'imperfections' in the bible) with sins they themselves plan-out and execute according to their own selfish will.
    Not all sins can rightly be blamed on anyone or anything else than, say, the person seeking revenge, or worse, prevenge. (preemptive war, for example)

    June 15, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chrissy

    @ Philip, you really DO need to get a job @ cnn! You explain this far better than the articles weve been reading. 🙂

    June 15, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. help our nation now

    its very different from a commerical aircarft a commercial aircarft doesnt have license plate recognition it doesn't have facial recognotion and it doesnt have thermal imagining. A police car can drive by slowly but it cant see me cooking in my house it cant look in my backyard and it cant detect my kids faces from the sky are our citizens really this dumb dont give up your freedom for saftey you will regret it later.

    June 16, 2012 at 3:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. phunk

    The funny thing to me is that we think at this point we can still stop this. Its already too late by the time we have found out its a possibility because by then, contracts are in place and businesses stand to lose billions of dollars from the governement. Since we all know corporations run the government, we're screwed.

    June 16, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
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