Invest your privacy in drones

Here's what the Cato Institute had to say about Obama's drone policy:

Economic recovery meets governmental opportunism in a developing twist on one aspect of the Nevada job market. While the military bases in Nevada have hosted drone operators for quite some time now, there’s a strong possibility that drones—unmanned aerial units—will become more and more popular, and this puts Nevada in a unique position. In a June workshop in Las Vegas that involved the Nevada System of Higher Education, there was a surprising item on the agenda: the possibility of a drone degree program at both the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Nevada, Reno.

Growing interest in an expanded military and governmental drone industry in Nevada has sparked controversy over the ethics of drone use. On one hand, drones require less manpower to operate and therefore save money. In addition, military drone used overseas can limit the number of overall casualties and American troop deaths while still being strategically effective.

On the other hand, however, drone usage is a coldly impersonal method of killing that can result in large numbers of civilian casualties as well as unjust murder. Domestic drone use, while reportedly only used in cases of hunting down criminals, can ultimately be an infringement on the privacy of honest U.S. citizens as well. While drone surveillance is currently mostly limited to public lands, the fact remains that when people are outdoors on their private lands, they are still susceptible to being watched.

Weaponized drones can be insidious in a much more lethal way. Two years ago, in a series of counter-terrorist CIA drone strikes in Yemen, teenager and U.S.-born citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was killed in an attack. He was one of many innocents who were murdered in a wave of U.S. drone violence, and he won’t be the last if trends continue. The loosely defined right to use force against individuals who pose a threat to the United States is not a form of justice. Who’s to say that Edward Snowden won’t be deemed an enemy of the state and murdered in an overseas drone strike? Who, besides military and government authorities, has a voice in the “justice” that drones provide?

Clearly, drones do not provide the checks and balances of a fair trial that U.S. citizens are guaranteed in the Constitution, and, indeed, there seems to be a certain amount of information suppression about the process of ordering drone strikes. Such a devil-may-care method of eliminating enemies of the U.S. is dangerous and sets terrifying precedents for government-ordained punishment.

Drone legislation will become increasingly important and complex. Much legislation will involve the following issues: the necessity of search warrants for drone surveillance, laws limiting or prohibiting weaponized drones, legal retaliation for private individuals who have been aggrieved by drone law transgressions and laws that allow the use of drones in emergencies. There’s no denying that the technology and skill that goes into the use of drones is amazing, but, like most tools of warfare and spying, there is not enough transparency from those who control it.

Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster about drones in March of this year brought the issue into national limelight, but it’s the American people who have kept it there. Drone usage, in conjunction with the revelation of intensive National Security Agency surveillance programs, has people abuzz with concern about the violation of basic rights and privileges. In light of these issues, this year’s Independence Day was slightly sobering. In an increasingly advanced technological and globalized world, threats to life and liberty are ever-present if we do not keep vigilant.