Spy in the Sky: The next challenge

The debate over domestic drones

wtopstaff | November 14, 2014 6:05 pm

Download audio

Editor’s note: Some drones are bigger than a jet, weaponized and used in strategic military operations. Others are smaller than a basketball, sent airborne for basic surveillance or weekend recreation.

The label “unmanned aerial vehicles,” or UAVs, is almost a catch-all term covering a wide range of devices that vary greatly in their capabilities and purposes. Yet the use of drones generally sparks intense debate, questions about security versus privacy and even fear.

In the WTOP series “Spy in the Sky,” WTOP examines the types of drones used by the U.S. military and fears about targeted killings, both at home and abroad.

Part 7: The next challenge

Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – As drone applications proliferate, the challenge for lawmakers is to catch up with the technology already in use and define parameters for it.

Domestically, the debate concerns small drones designed for surveillance.

Maryland is among dozens of states scrambling to draw up some boundaries. Delegate Ron George, R-Anne Arundel, has proposed legislation requiring law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant before using a drone to gather evidence.

“The bill tries to find a way that police agencies can use drones in order to gather information without stepping across the line of civil liberties,” George says.

There are exceptions included in George’s bill, such as using a drone in response to an imminent terrorist threat.

The size, mission and capability of drones vary greatly. But their use — and concerns about them — continue to expand.

In discussing some of the devices’ official deployments, recreational user Adam Eidinger asked the poignant question.

“Is our quality of life going to be enhanced or not?”

Related Stories:

Follow @MollenbeckWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

Advertiser Content