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Commentators: Drones eliminate privacy as well as criminals

Wednesday - 5/30/2012, 10:02am  ET

Drones vs. privacy

Commentators Bob Beckel and Cal Thomas

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WASHINGTON - Though crime and police budgets may be reduced if Virginia gets the drones Gov. Bob McDonnell praised on Tuesday, area residents' privacy and security could also be risked, two commentators say.

"Drones may soon be over your house taking down criminals, and your right to privacy right along with them," says Fox News Channel host and USA Today columnist Bob Beckel. The unmanned aircraft will also be able to listen in on cellphone messages, hack text messages and take pictures of license plates while they track fleeing criminals, he says.

Beckel also says the local police forces who request drones will have no control over them; rather, they'll be guided by military operators hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Commentator Cal Thomas points to an historic lack of security with drones, such as the aircraft that was successfully hacked in 2009 using very inexpensive and readily available software. The Federal Aviation Administration predicts there will be up to 30,000 domestic drones by 2020, making the likelihood of a hijacking that much more likely, Thomas says.

McDonnell isn't the only national figure who openly supports them. The Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus has 43 members and campaigns heavily for the use of drones.

"Haven't we Americans lost enough of our privacy?" says Thomas.

Hear more of Thomas and Beckel's perspectives in the full audio at right.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)