Aerial and camera surveillance of public areas is nothing new, but as lawmakers learned this July during a roundtable discussion, advances in technology are raising new policy questions about everything from privacy and private property to the practices of law enforcement.
Take, for example, the increased capabilities of a drone.
It now can be equipped with high-resolution cameras that observe objects, in detail, as small as 6 inches from as far as 17,000 feet away and can track 65 different targets over a 65-square-mile zone.
“There are a lot of good things that drones can be used for,” said Jeramie Scott of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, noting how effective and inexpensive they have become. “But there need to be some types of guidelines in place for their use.”
States have a central role to play in setting those guidelines, added Scott, who helped facilitate the discussion among state and provincial lawmakers at the Midwestern Legislative Conference Annual Meeting.