back to article Congress report warns: drones will track faces from the sky

With the FAA working on rules to integrate drones into airspace safety by 2015, the US government’s Congressional Research Service has warned of gaps in how American courts might treat the use of drones. The snappily-headlined report, Drones in Domestic Surveillance Operations: Fourth Amendment Implications and Legislative …


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  1. Christopher Michaelis
    Big Brother

    Big brother... watching.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Big brother...

      Cool, but can they invent an algorithm that can track big breasted women or ones with a pert ar*se.

      Now that would be a real advance in technology.

  2. Herby

    New Headline...

    Sales of hats up 100%

    1. Alan W. Rateliff, II
      Paris Hilton

      Re: New Headline...

      Tongue-in-cheek, I realize. I am compelled none-the-less to mention that I have seen this technology in action. At an NSA conference within the past year I, as well as any other participants interested, was shown a sample scenario which went something like this:

      "Locate a man in his 20s with this tattoo driving a red car. Follow this car noting all of its stops. If it meets a white truck, disengage the car and follow the truck. Make note of the direction the red car takes."

      Best of all, this is near the exact plain language fed to the drone's control system, along with pictures when appropriate. The drone performing this action is capable of circling and monitoring a large metropolitan area to accomplish its task. As well, the video it uses is extremely hi-def. While the actual fidelity is classified, I was informed it is well above what is capable with home entertainment equipment.

      The video was incredibly impressive and frightening at the same time. This is immense power, and with such power comes responsibility.

      Paris, does she watch the watchers?

      1. GrumpyOldBloke

        Re: New Headline...

        Locate a man in his 20s with this tattoo driving a red car...ensure man accounts for all his time, currency exchanges and carbon footprint in next tax return else its off to the slave labour camps (prison) where at $2 per day he can repay his debt to government while enriching the private prison operators. Remember the bad people hate us for our freedoms, ha ha ha ha....sigh.

  3. Grikath

    Tinfoil prices

    through the roof!

    Rationing in place!! Conspiracy suspected!!!

    1. Suburban Inmate
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Tinfoil prices

      In other news:

      Mexico reports sombrero exports rising!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "..the FAA working on rules to integrate drones into airspace safety.."

    Simple solution: Don't use drones

    Obligatory Judas Priest reference...

    "Up here in space

    I'm looking down on you.

    My lasers trace

    Everything you do.

    You think you've private lives

    Think nothing of the kind.

    There is no true escape

    I'm watching all the time. "

  5. Haku
    Big Brother

    Can you say "feature creep"?

    There was a tv show 5 years ago called "Masters of Science Fiction" with 6 stories introduced by Stephen Hawking, story 6 "Watchbird" was perhaps the best of the bunch and somewhat forboding as it told the story of autonomous flying drones that were developed to support the troops during battles as they were programmed to sense & shoot people about to commit crimes before they acted them out. Based on their performance in the field the government decided to use them (much to the protest of their creator) to monitor their own population as a police aid, then they activated the watchbirds weaponry...

  6. Silent but Deadly
    Thumb Up

    This could be a good thing.

    Anything that encourages gangsta idiots who wear reversed or side facing baseball caps to wear them the right way can only be applauded.

    Now we just have to incorporate Exposed Underwear Recognition (EUR, you read it here first), and they might pull their pants up and wear a belt too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This could be a good thing.

      I have something to encourage conforming idiots to underwear over their trousers. That means I get to laugh at you while you have no idea why.

  7. Eddy Ito

    Only a matter of time

    Soon there will be all sorts of countermeasures being invented. Think of this as an oblique economic stimulus package and will probably create more jobs than when Jimmy Carter opened up the rules to make it easier for micro-breweries to start up. Of course that only means that some governmental git will demand that anything that enhances privacy is outlawed.

    1. 142

      Re: Only a matter of time

      No invention needed! Just get another drone, fly it / ask it to fly into the one following you. Problem solved.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Only a matter of time

        High-powered lasers and good optics to blind those things?

        "Open the attic window, blast the drone, then close the attic window"

      2. Vulch

        Re: Only a matter of time

        Walter Jon Williams book "Deep State" has the protagonists using drones, including 'flying wedges' designed to ram the opposition drones in a Robot Wars style.

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: Only a matter of time

      As long as the law is symmetrical: you're allowed to fly all the drones you want; I'm allowed to crash them. And you get to pay to clean up the mess.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In other news...

    Hundreds of drones crash for unknown reasons. Beware of the RL hack.

  9. Pyers

    I can read your mind

    I now have that song as Thursday's earworm...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can read your mind

      Huh. I was thinking something more along the lines of "I am perpetual, I keep the country clean" would have been more apt...

  10. Anonymous Coward

    I remember Dark Angel, and the police spy drones that were symbolic of that fucked-up world.

    I shouldn't be surprised that technology has advanced to that state so quickly, but I am surprised at how quickly civilization has declined.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like...

    ... they wouldn't mind being able to legislate the fourth away.

    The thing is, of course, that the traditional "identification first" approach invariably turns out to be rather more costly, relatively and possibly also absolutely speaking, to those who're supposed to have nothing to fear than to those who have an active interest in staying under the radar, so to speak.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile here in England...

    ... chief constables and council leaders are salivating and rubbing their hands in anticipation and eking out a pocket in next year's budget for a few of them. No doubt a good chunk of the price can be recouped selling on some of the juicier footage to Channel 5 a couple of years down the line, but if not I'm sure a few more front-line officers won't be missed nearer term. Oh joy!

  13. Steven Roper

    The last paragraph is the scariest

    Because I can smell privacy law being used to prevent anyone EXCEPT the police and military being allowed to use drones - or inevitably, ANY kind of model aircraft - because, as we all know, if we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to fear, right?

    Once again, I'm glad I never had kids. The future is a horror.

    1. Suburban Inmate
      Thumb Up

      Re: The last paragraph is the scariest

      +1 for not having kids. Same thinking here plus I can't stand the things. Doug Stanhope had a few words about it too, on Newswipe.

  14. rik.andreassen

    maybe a few people should watch the movie eyeborgs round 2009. it would give them a totally diferent future referance.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Gov - Left Hand meet Right Hand

    One arm of the Gov is urging us to wear hats to protect us from the evil Sun.

    now another arm will be wanting to outlaw any form of head covering so that their shiny new toys might work.

    Government... don't you just like them eh?

    anon coz even though I'm in a basement (no not my mom's) I'll have to surface sooner or later.

  16. g e

    From the sky...

    Right, what's it going to do, shout 'Hey! Up here!" in Farsi to get targets to look up ?

    People do look broadly the same with a scarf/balaclava wrapped round their head, too.

  17. Beavercheese

    Half-Life 2 re-release coming soon....

    Scanner (Type 1)

    Combine Surveillance Robot

    The basic scanner is an annoyance at best, following you around and occasionally blinding you with its camera flash. Take them out as convenient, but be careful to finish the job once you start; they ram and explode if they take enough damage.

    Scanner (Type 2)

    Combine Surveillance Robot

    The next step up from the basic scanner can be seen dropping hopper mines into battle or using their light machine guns in addition to their typical follow and annoy role.


    Combine Eradication Robot

    "Flying Blades of Doom" is an apt name for these. Manhacks are small robots that hover around with spinning blades, attacking any non-Combine they find. They are little more than a distraction on their own, going down relatively easily with a crowbar or pistol, but can be dangerous in groups.

    Now where did I put my crowbar...

  18. P Saunders

    When is drone hunting season?

    Knowing the americans, they'll take great delight in trying to shoot these down. also, what kind of crap will occur should one of these malfunction and descend rapidly into a crowded area? Lawsuits....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: When is drone hunting season?

      I'd ask the Taliban, who despite the obvious motivation don't seem to have much joy in shooting these down, despite having military grade weapons, no local government to discourage the discharge of said weapons, and typically no distracting noise from nearby highways and airports. If we believe what's in the public domain, then all of the thirty or forty drone losses in recent years have been pilot error or mechanical/electronic failure.

  19. mhenriday
    Big Brother

    Yet another reason to watch yer feet !

    O brave new world. That has such machines in't !...


  20. Graham Marsden
    Big Brother


    the "Spy in the Sky" mini-drones from Judge Dredd will soon be putting in an appearance...

  21. John Sturdy

    Citizen drones

    Fortunately, sousveillance drones can broadcast unencrypted video, rather than sending back a stream for exclusive use of their operators, which should make it harder to trace them back to an individual to prosecute for using them.

  22. PatientOne

    Next step: Arm them.

    Arm the drones so that, if a crime is identified and there is no ground unit available to intercede/make the arrest, the drone can engage and stop the crime.

    Separately, make all voting electronic. Candidates hold debates via CCTV links to limit risk from terror attacks, and all public announcements are made via CCTV, too, so the president/prime-minister is never exposed to unnecessary risk...

    Sorry, was watching a film where this was the premise...

    1. Terry Cloth
      Black Helicopters

      Ultimate electronic voting

      It's a snap! On election day everyone steps outside their front door and holds up their ballot for the drones to read. What could be easier?

      The trouble is, I'm not sure how long this will remain a joke.

  23. Dr. Ellen


    Reminds me of cartoons by Munro Leaf from the days when I was a child. The key phrase, repeated over and over, was "This is a watchbird, watching you."

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    .........system online ...drone airborne...


    ....engaging facial recognition.....match 75% probability known terrorist : Mustapha Leak

    ....arming hellfire... removed.....

    ..human detected......

    US media reports worrying disappearances of traffic wardens, vagrants, cold calling salesman and Mormon missionaries.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Accident Waiting to Happen?

    What will happen when a drone accidentally brings down a civilian airliner? Will that be what it takes to kill off this technology?

  26. lambda_beta

    The Alan Parsons Project, released in 1982.


    I am the eye in the sky

    Looking at you

    I can read your mind

    I am the maker of rules

    Dealing with fools

    I can cheat you blind

    And I don't need to see any more

    To know that

    I can read your mind, I can read your mind

  27. JC_Hali


  28. dhcp pump

    Scotty beam me up .

    Tin foil hat ( with lidar absorbing surface paint -available )paint gun with laser and lidar jamming ,lock onto drone ,blast it .

    Summer job - Paint house with lidar absorbing material ,paint car ,paint everything - LOL.

    Sales of lidar absorbing paint ---->

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