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

    Joey brought-up Judgement Day. I was responding to his post knowing most believe that day to be a literal day, even the day you die. Nothing could be further from the truth, or further from the way God's word describes Judgement Day. So back away slowly. 🙂

    June 15, 2012 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  2. Philip

    Police should be allowed to use drones on US citizens who are well known individuals suspected of terrorizing us. We have already agreed drones should be allowed to kill US citizens living abroad who are well known suspected al-quaeda helpers.
    We would all become hypocritical if we all agrred to use drones on international suspected terrorists but not on domestic terrorists who raype, rob, and murder US on a scale international terrorists never have done.
    Drone down (kill) well known suspected murderers before they murder again. Any innocents killed...we already refer to them as "collateral damage" and cover them with "war is hell, people die".

    June 15, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      If i it were not for the fact that the biggest domestic terrorists support and are supported by or military industrial complex, vis a vi the bankers, that would be correct. Obama has joined his predecessors in the attempt to turn us into a police state. Only bush has done more the take away our rights and weaken or souvernity

      June 15, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  3. Sandusky Sandwich

    If I see any of those baby's flying around my house, I'm going to shoot it down. I advise everyone else to do the same.

    June 15, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
    • MOOSE

      I,m with you brother!!!!!

      June 15, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    I think that the government should use drones to kill sinners.
    Don't you, Philip?

    June 15, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. saywhat

    Like it or not drones will be deployed. We gave up our rights with the Patriot Act and with the recently passed Defense Bill.
    You shoot one down , end up pushing daisies or losing your mind in Gitmo.

    June 15, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      These won't be federal government owned. You won't be going to Gitmo or federal prison. Just the local country jail. CNN is showing photos of the warfighting drones. Actually your local police will be using a large model airplane with a Visual

      June 15, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Sensor suite and GPS navigation system.

      June 15, 2012 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      You are correct sir! (with an Ed Mcmahon voice) 🙂 Late good morning to you.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. Philip

    @saywhat. Exactly
    @Joey. The US government has no authority over sin and/or sinning. Their authority is over crime, and over criminals.
    Many confuse sin with crime. Even if ones sins are forgiven, Justice calls for the crimes to be paid for, usually in cash or time spent in prison. Sins, on the other hand, are freely forgiven those who are truly repentant. No charge.

    June 15, 2012 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  7. Philip

    The same exact drones being deployed overseas are already patrolling our southern border, @Jeff Frank.
    But you are right about well known suspected criminals who survive drone attacks not going to GITMO. they will be going to one of our 160 Homeland Security Prisons originally funded by Congress to house thousands of international 9/11 terrorists, where they will slave for US until every peeny stolen is repaid in full, plus penaly fees, late charges, and interest charges. Even corrupt MDs who prescribe pharma for profit RATHER than health will practice on US for free, from their prison office cell. (our true future national healthcare overhaul)

    June 15, 2012 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  8. Philip

    @portland Tony, rather.

    June 15, 2012 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  9. saywhat

    @portland tony
    I doubt that. Though you may be right on one aspect as @Philip says. I think domestic surveillance falls under the parameters of Homeland Security. It is one thing to label the activity as local law enforcement for public consumption and another to bring the drone deployment under the net of Patriot Act and the Defense Bill.
    Depends on who the govt is spying on.

    June 15, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. Philip

    If you yourself are not a well known person suspected of terrorizing your own neighbors, you have nothing to fear from the coming security afforded by US drones droning-down US citizens. (other than collateral damagages that we all accept and expect during war (on terror) time.

    June 15, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hope

      Have you ever heard of false arrest, false imprisonment, profiling and abuse of power? Trust me, when you are accused of a crime, of which you are.innocent, you are up against a whole system whose only purpose is to prosecute.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Hope

    My county just purchased a drone and I fear our right to privacy will be compromised. When the police are given the right to hone in on private conversation and non-manned surveillance, we have a problem. We are giving the police too much power. Generally, Law.Enforcement are honest, but they, too, are chosen from the pool of greedy, corrupt and power-hungry population known as mankind. Not every cop is a good guy and if THEY want you, they'll do anything to get you, even if it means breaking the very laws they are hired to uphold. Give an inch, they take a mile.

    Be Aware,

    June 15, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    @ Philip:
    No, no, no, no, no, no.
    I know the difference between the words "sin" and "crime."
    I said, "...sinners."
    We can write any law we like.

    June 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Philip

    Hope? Local police won't be using military drones. Police departments simply aren't equipped with the authority to do so, nor the ability.
    No, US drones of America will be operated by the same experts operating them now overseas and along our southern border: US Military directed by the NSA (National Security Agency)
    And if you fear being spyed on, know this...since Windows 98, the NSA, who also direct the CIA, have had non-stop access to anyone's PC. (other than those who use ultra-high security encryption, which is illegal in the US.)
    Google 'microsoft NSA key back door' and find out how it was that Microsoft won-out over the superior McIntosh Apple. (by building a back-door for the NSA, something Apple refused to do)

    June 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy©

    I live in a town of 19000, a burb of Chicago.
    I don't see the feasability of one of these drones here.
    Should they purchase one, I fear it would remove one or more of the patrolman's jobs...and I would hate that, for they do a very fine job in what they do.
    Thry are the first responders at many calls, and a drone just couldn't do that.
    Not to mention all of the privacy issues..
    I would hate to see unscrupulous people put video of people (like Floyd, no offense) up on the net for rather sick people's enjoyment.

    Philip is right: the government (US or State) has no say in what they consider to be sin.
    They have no real say in what one does to their bodies, or who does what to their bodies; as it should be.

    June 15, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy©

    Oh, and by the way, good afternoon, my friends.

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