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. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanirty "

    Check point ahead every 10 miles:
    1. You must present a valid drivers license or State picture I.D.
    2. You must have valid registration.
    3. You must present a current insurance or proof of financial responsibility.
    4. You must have your Social Security number and pin.
    5. You must show a legitimate cerificate of live birth.
    6. You must enter the check area in a calm collected manner. You cannot show any signs of exitedness. You must talk to the inspector in a polite way.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mr Dalloway

    Maybe a few drones can fly over Wall Street where it's just flushed with genuine crooks.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. chrissy

    @ Mr Dalloway, damn good idea. And fly over CONGRESS when their in session too! The biggest crooks of all!

    June 15, 2012 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
  4. Floyd

    since I am a sun bather, does this mean that I cannot expose myself, to the sun, in my own back yard, which is

    surrounded by a privacy fense, for fear of being arrested for indecent exposure??

    June 15, 2012 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
    • ♚Mmmmm♛

      i can make my own drone2bomber with ducktape and radio remote plane...then i will release water ballons on unsuspecting pedestrians and sunbathed exhibitionist people....like floyd....

      June 15, 2012 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
  5. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    Mosquito drones will come as surely as Dick Tracy's "impossible" wrist radio did.
    It's too late to stop our government, which can keep a secret.
    We're totally busted in America the Omniscient.

    June 15, 2012 at 7:14 am | Report abuse |
  6. Portland tony

    Simply put these drones can save lives, tax payer money, and free up civil protection protection personnel from erroneous missions. Suppose for a moment, that a drone with night vision capabilities were patrolling the sky in the Zimmerman case in Florida..a sort of aerial neighborhood watch, Chances are their would be no confrontation. Think of earlier detection of forest and other life threatening fires. Real time monitoring of freeway Accidents. Real time surveillance of swimmers in trouble at beaches. Lost kids or hikers in a heavily wooded or desert area. Spotting survivors of boat or plane wrecks etc. Routine surveillance of high crime areas..all this could be done to help society. Not spy on it. Society should figure out how to deal with kinda personal intrusion. Off you sun bath in the backyard nude, right now you are being recorded by some nation's satellite.

    June 15, 2012 at 7:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      I apologize for the early morning typos!

      June 15, 2012 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
  7. ronvan

    The question is WHAT is the true objective? IF Floyd is sunbathing in his back yard, or your having a BBQ and as a result of a drone seeing you a police officer issues you a ticket, or even talks to you, then that is WRONG!! The other thing that gets me is the price tag on these things. Whit ALL the problems our country is having WHERE is this money coming from? Personally I would not mind drones flying around as long as its purpose was clearly defined and strictly adhered to.

    June 15, 2012 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      My point exactly. Privacy laws must be determined prior unleashing these drones on the public. Cost for a simple surveillance vehicle is far less than than a manned craft. Actually a model airplane with optics would work. Compared to a manned helicopter or light plane, these babies are throw aways at maybe 5 grand each!

      June 15, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    Churches will save money by purchasing smaller brass collection plates. With all-seeing drones, many parents will no longer tell their children that an invisible. mystical enti-
    ty of choice is watching and recording their actions for Judgement Day.
    Judgement will be sooner than you think.

    June 15, 2012 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Depending where you are in life, every day may be judgement day!

      June 15, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    I, for one, am all about using drones to cobat terrorism at home and abroad, and abiding by rules of engagement already established and accepted by most of US. (it's ok by most if drones are used to kill well known suspected criminals, even two US citizens suspected of helping al-quaeda terrorize US in Yemen recently)
    If it's good for the goose, it's good for the gander.
    Good Morning @Joey. Good to see you here again.

    June 15, 2012 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  10. Philip

    ...and, @Joey. We are living in the biblical 'Judgement Day' now. Just as the universe wasn't created in 7 of mans puny little years, Judgement Day is not a literal 24 hr. day or "the day you meet the man upstairs" as some put it.
    No judge worth his salt would wait till it was over to begin judgeing.

    June 15, 2012 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  11. Philip

    *6 days, rather. We are living during the time of God's 7th day, his day of resting from his work.

    June 15, 2012 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. Philip

    For example, if a man were to raype a boy and not be repentant about it, chooseing to battle it out in court rather than freely admitting his crimes and begging forgiveness, that man is judged worthy of death. He might repent later on in life, but until then, he would be judged worthy of death. (raype is a capital offense according to God's laws)

    June 15, 2012 at 9:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      @Philip.... little off the subject of drones but if u see a connection ...so be it?

      June 15, 2012 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio)"Right Wing Insanirty "

    A lot of constructive constructive ideas! Like spotting a forest fire in the wilderness. Cool. Maybe after one of these crashes, it'll start a few fires of it's own.
    Maybe we can paint a Jesus on the bottom of the drone, and tell the kids...up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane!
    They really want them in the air to spy on nude sunbathers....perverts.

    June 15, 2012 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. chrissy

    On topic, i agree with you ronvan, and Portland tony, yes it MIGHT be a good thing, if the police do adhere to the rules! And they should not be allowed to spy into peoples homes unless they have legal probable cause.

    June 15, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  15. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    @ Philip:
    Good morning. It's always a treat to see your posts on your own stationery.
    Well, I haven't ray-
    ped any boys or girls, but I must have done something wrong, because a little of the brimstone is falling in my direction.
    That's OK, though: my mother taught me that maso-
    chism is a good thing.

    June 15, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
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