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US Senator Warns Against Political Surveillance By Drone 150

Posted by Soulskill
from the eyes-in-the-skies dept.
cold fjord writes "Politico reports, 'Sen. Dianne Feinstein says she once found a drone peeking into the window of her home — the kind of cautionary tale she wants lawmakers to consider as they look at allowing commercial drone use. ... she used the episode to implore lawmakers to "proceed with caution." Feinstein said she encountered the flying robot while a demonstration was taking place outside her house. She said she went to the window to peek out — and "there was a drone right there at the window looking out at me." ... "Obviously the pilot of the drone had some surprise because the drone wheeled around and crashed ..." she said. ... Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday that she has seen firsthand the surveillance capabilities of drones and called civilian privacy concerns "significant." She ... recommended a search warrant requirement. Feinstein said she is working on legislation with the Commerce Committee and urged senators to move swiftly to create "strong, binding enforceable privacy policies that govern drone operations before the technology is upon us."'"
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US Senator Warns Against Political Surveillance By Drone

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  • Isn't that cute (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:02PM (#45986723)

    She doesn't like it when it happens to her.

    • Re:Isn't that cute (Score:5, Insightful)

      by erikkemperman (252014) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:08PM (#45986799)

      So Feinstein

      urged senators to move swiftly to create "strong, binding enforceable privacy policies that govern drone operations before the technology is upon us.

      This is such undiluted hypocrisy, given her reaction to the Snowden saga. It would be funny, if it was not so very sad.

      • Re:Isn't that cute (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Vitriol+Angst (458300) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:44PM (#45987415)

        For politicos like Feinstein, their Party or their alleged philosophical beliefs are as illuminating to their decision process as the logos on a NASCAR jacket. She says whatever sounds the most reasonable and responsible and occasionally stamps her feet and waves her arms and does the least to trouble the status quo as possible.

        Meanwhile she makes money investing in military related stocks, and builds a portfolio based on insider knowledge (as is legal for all Senators) and retires much wealthier than when she entered office. Rinse and repeat with the next political opportunist.

        • ..and builds a portfolio based on insider knowledge (as is legal for all Senators) and retires much wealthier than when she entered office.

          If anyone wants to be thoroughly disgusted by Congress's insider information, read the book titled "Throw Them All Out."

          • When is California going to recall her?
            • When is California going to recall her?

              Given her uber-wealthy backers and the overall ideological tilt of California?

              They'll likely keep sending her embalmed corpse back to DC each term for approximately the next 600 years or so.

              • by morgauxo (974071)

                That would be quite an improvement. Probably better than them electing a new one actually!

              • by Zordak (123132)

                When is California going to recall her?

                Given her uber-wealthy backers and the overall ideological tilt of California?

                They'll likely keep sending her embalmed corpse back to DC each term for approximately the next 600 years or so.

                This may not be a bad thing. As long as they don't find a way to reanimate her, she'll have to keep her mouth shut and won't be able to vote on anything. I'd call that an epic win.

            • by slick7 (1703596)

              When is California going to recall her?

              When is California going to send her to Fukushima?

        • Re:Isn't that cute (Score:5, Interesting)

          by DigiShaman (671371) on Friday January 17, 2014 @02:00PM (#45988635) Homepage

          You forgot to mention her stance that only the government can define who a journalist is. So in her worldview, citizen journalism and blogging is not covered under the first amendment of freedom of the press. Ya, she's a real fascist piece of work! The more you research who this women is, the more worried you should be.

          http://watchdog.org/100682/feinstein-wants-to-limit-who-can-be-a-journalist/ [watchdog.org]

        • by celle (906675)

          "Meanwhile she makes money investing in military related stocks, and builds a portfolio based on insider knowledge (as is legal for all Senators) and retires much wealthier than when she entered office."

              Actually it's not legal but people in power ignore laws when convenient and do everything to hide that the law is being ignored. Now they just believe they have the public so disinterested that they don't have to hide it anymore. It was a conflict of interest then it still is.

        • by hguorbray (967940)
          Her Husband is a billionaire anyway, although there have certainly been some gvernment actions which have served to make him even more money:

          http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/apr/21/senate-husbands-firm-cashes-in-on-crisis/?page=all

          http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/04/30/Sen-Diane-Feinstein-s-Husband-Bags-CA-High-Speed-Rail-Construction-Contract

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_C._Blum

          -I'm just sayin'
      • After her admission, one cannot help but wonder if peeping toms the world over are not weeping for joy of this new technology?
        • After her admission, one cannot help but wonder if peeping toms the world over are not weeping for joy of this new technology?

          I have a drone (DJI Phantom) and it sounds like a small weed whacker - hardly a stealth device.

          • by dbIII (701233)
            I saw a very cool lighter than air (small dirigible) robot in 1996. Of course it was indoors.
            Now that batteries do not suck quite so much and small electric motors are more powerful it's possible, if usually impractical, to have a silent drone so long as the weather is dead calm.
            Weed wackers are probably to go since balloons blow everywhere.
      • Re:Isn't that cute (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:45PM (#45987449)

        This is such undiluted hypocrisy, given her reaction to the Snowden saga. It would be funny, if it was not so very sad.

        Very true. But I am still changing my will so I will be buried with my ice skates. Hell has frozen over. Diane Feinstein has finally found an expansion of government authoritarianism that she is unwilling to support. Wow.

        • by roc97007 (608802)

          This is such undiluted hypocrisy, given her reaction to the Snowden saga. It would be funny, if it was not so very sad.

          Very true. But I am still changing my will so I will be buried with my ice skates. Hell has frozen over. Diane Feinstein has finally found an expansion of government authoritarianism that she is unwilling to support. Wow.

          Yes. She represents the polar opposite of everything I hold dear, but I found myself grudgingly agreeing with this one position. I quickly checked myself for signs of stroke.

        • It's not hypocracy at all, just an expression of the "might makes right" philosophy and she's offended that someone is challenging her might.
          She'd fit in really well in China or Stalin's USSR.
          • by Reziac (43301) *

            Having watched her career help demolish her home state, I agree -- it's all about HER, which amounts to "might makes right".

            Pretty damn funny when it happens to you, eh, Feinstein??

      • hypocrisy? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ron_ivi (607351) <sdotno@@@cheapcomplexdevices...com> on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:47PM (#45987469)

        It's not hypocracy if her position is consistantly that the elite and rich defense contractors (doesn't her husband own much of URS) are above the law, and everyone else must bow before them.

        Her legislation could say "only senators, former senators, people with over $100 million, and defense contractors can use drones to spy on others" -- and it wouldn't be hypocracy. It'd just be evil.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          It would also violate equal protection... so there's that.

      • I was just gonna say, someone should bug her house and visibly tap her phone line, and maybe she'll make a quick about-face on that too.

        • by roc97007 (608802)

          ...but assure her that we'll never listen to the tapes, we'll just keep them. Just in case.

      • If you think that's hypocrisy you should probably know about how she has a concealed carry permit despite being the most vocal anti-gun politician in the US.

        One law for us, a different law for them.

    • Re:Isn't that cute (Score:5, Insightful)

      by k6mfw (1182893) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:18PM (#45987013)
      From Mad Magazine around 1970: When United States wants to know activities of other countries, we employ intelligence agents. When another country does the same to us, we accuse them of using spies.
      • Not unique to the USA. In pretty much every country, they use a nice, sanitized word to distinguish THEIR spies from the ones used by other countries against them.
        • by whoever57 (658626)

          In pretty much every country, they use a nice, sanitized word to distinguish THEIR spies from the ones used by other countries against them.

          Not true in the UK. Much of the recent discussions regarding allowing MI5 and MI6 to exceed speed limits clearly referred to the UK's agents as "spies". But then, the UK has James Bond, so it's a little different!

          • Just wait till they come out with their new version, MI7! The MI6.4 patch was a little buggy for my taste.
      • by TWiTfan (2887093)

        You could update that today: When a CIA spy is caught and imprisoned in a country like Iran or North Korea, he's a hostage being held by a brutal terrorist regime. When a North Korean or Iranian spy comes to the U.S. and gets caught and imprisoned, he's a terrorist enemy combatant who must be detained indefinitely for national security.

    • Re:Isn't that cute (Score:5, Insightful)

      by operagost (62405) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:22PM (#45987105) Homepage Journal

      Just like her stance on gun control-- fine as long as she gets an exception.

      She's the master of special pleading.

    • It would be a real shame if a bunch of other stuff she legislated were to happen to her too.

    • by Lucas123 (935744)
      This is the politician who is not only the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who supported both the Afghan and Iraq wars, but also voted for the extension of the PATRIOT ACT and the FISA provisions. She was also a co-sponsor of PIPA (Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act), which, like SOPA, allows the Attorney General to take action against any site it judges as “facilitating copyright infringement” by forcing all Interne
    • by mspohr (589790)

      Feinstein has been one of the most rabid supporters of surveillance and has repeatedly defended the NSA.
      That's why it's stunning to see this hypocrisy when suddenly she is the victim of surveillance.
      Add in the fact that her husband makes millions from the military industrial complex and you see her true nature.
      Interesting biography: http://foundsf.org/index.php?title=Richard_C._Blum_and_Dianne_Feinstein:_The_Power_Couple_of_California [foundsf.org]
      "On January 20, 1980, in San Francisco, California, finance capitalist Ric

  • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:04PM (#45986749)

    She is pretty sexy, after all.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      After further investigation, it was learned that it was operated by the neighbor teenager who enjoys older women. The surprise was anything but, it was the culmination of vigorous hand exercises which led to the loss of control of the aircraft.

  • My property line also extends upwards. [latimes.com]

  • Two sets of laws (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:05PM (#45986761)
    But Ms Feinstein, surely if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear?
    • Having nothing to hide when a drone peeps in your shower curtain is certainly something to fear.

      Most people packing heat and a 6 pack fear nothing from peepers. "Yeah, take a good long look. That's what you got but it's made for an adult..."

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's Diane Feinstein to a T; she is a firm believer in a set of laws for the elite and a separate set of laws for the rest of us. In light of her gun control hypocrisy I'm not surprised by this at all.

      http://www.ijreview.com/2013/01/32591-busted-gun-control-legislator-dianne-feinstein-discusses-why-she-concealed-carry-firearms/

      She has been a strong advocate of gun control, and yet has a concealed-carry permit. She believes she has the right to self-defense, but the rest of us do not. Hypocrisy is her m

  • by Anonymous Coward

    She should just shoot it down....oh wait....owning a gun makes you evil in her eyes...

    • Re: Maybe... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:37PM (#45987313)

      Well you may know that she issued one, and only one, concealed weapons permit while she was mayor of San Francisco -- to herself. Apparently out of all of San Francisco she believed she was the only civilian that could be trusted and deserved permission to carry a gun.
      Please excuse me while I vomit...
      BTW profanity does not enhance this discussion. It diverts attention from her disgusting behavior to yours.

      • by dbIII (701233)
        What is it about San Francisco politics? That prick who used a meltdown of IT office politics to get a photo op at the prison "coming to save the day" doesn't seem to be the only bit of slime to fill the shoes.
    • Re:Maybe... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chris Mattern (191822) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:42PM (#45987377)

      No, she's got guns. She just doesn't want *you* to have them.

    • Re:Maybe... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by operagost (62405) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:43PM (#45987397) Homepage Journal
      She owns one... despite the fact that she consistently legislates against the 2nd amendment, and has her own security detail.
  • by some old guy (674482) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:11PM (#45986847)

    1. Federal licensing and "oversight" for businesses = tax$

    2. Exemptions for "national security" = hello FBI/TSA/NSA/DEA

    3. Strong, enforceable privacy policy = Private use prohibited.

    Watch for it.

    • Sadly already happening in Texas.
    • 1. Federal licensing and "oversight" for businesses = tax$

      2. Exemptions for "national security" = hello FBI/TSA/NSA/DEA

      3. Strong, enforceable privacy policy = Private use prohibited.

      Watch for it.

      Considering that the source is one Ms. Diane "Mr. and Mrs. America, turn in your guns, but I'll keep my heavily armed guard detail" Feinstein, I can't imagine that would be all too surprising.

  • by bhlowe (1803290) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:11PM (#45986863)
    DIFI had a $40 remote control helicopter fly by her house during a CODE PINK protest against her use of drones and her support of the endless wars she supports.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It still pisses me off that they call ALL of these devices "drones". I expect that almost NONE of these are actual drones... but just simple RC quad copters. WTF!?

  • by malakai (136531) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:13PM (#45986913) Journal

    ... I don't see this covered in any of the mainstream media reports, but the 'drone' involved was a pink 'barbie' knockoff with no video capability. It's a $25 dollar think-geek type mini gyro. I'm amazed it made it to the 2nd floor window of a home outside. No wonder it crashed, those things have the stability of a paper airplane thrown into a fan.

    Example of it:
    http://www.amazon.com/33013-Concept-Alloy-Helicopter-Light/dp/B009VCHVJQ/ref=sr_1_3?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1389974986&sr=1-3&keywords=pink+gyro [amazon.com]

    "Obviously the pilot of the drone had some surprise..."

    Obviously the pilot couldn't see you because there's no cameras on it, so I doubt she was surprised you looked out the window....

    ...because the drone wheeled around and crashed ..."

    They do that a lot.

    The irony here is Feinstein over dramatization of this event given what she authorizes on the SIC. Using this incident to call for stricter drone laws is like being hit by a paper airplane and calling for the FAA to investigate.

    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:38PM (#45987315) Homepage Journal

      The irony here is Feinstein over dramatization

      That's status quo for her, unfortunately. She's a terrible Senator, but a fairly good power monger.

      Just like with guns, her goal is to take this technology away from the hoi polloi and reserve the use for her gang.

    • It's just awesome some kid buzzed her house so Feinstein could poke her head outside of her little gopher hole and say; "Drone!???!! Eek! This is bad. I wasn't even wearing my Prada high heals and Fredricks jelly bra! Something must be done because I've got a party this weekend."

    • ... The irony here is Feinstein over dramatization of this event given what she authorizes on the SIC. Using this incident to call for stricter drone laws is like being hit by a paper airplane and calling for the FAA to investigate.

      I think in this case we can use the term "literally" rather than "ironic." This is "literally like calling the FAA because you got hit by a paper airplane." You called the NSA because someone buzzed you with a toy. Had it been a Paper Airplane with the proper ID on the side, she'd be calling the FAA with a complaint about the flight plan.

      • I think in this case we can use the term "literally" rather than "ironic." This is "literally like calling the FAA because you got hit by a paper airplane."

        To use "literally" (which indicates a non-figurative statement) in conjunction with "like" (which indicates the figurative form called simile) defies logic. "Literally" is not a flavoring word to be bandied about for emphasis. Or perhaps you were literally being ironic.

    • by Rinikusu (28164)

      Just as an aside, as an aspiring filmmaker, you'd be surprised what we can modify to install cameras on. a Go Pro, is a common off-the-shelf camera that's common enlisted into these sorts of endeavors, and you can fork out about $45 to rent one for a day or weekend with "damage insurance".

      • by malakai (136531)

        An Go-Pro Hero 2 weighs about 1/4th of the total weight of one of these mini gyros. There's no way that's going to fly on these. They don't have that kind of lift.

        • by Rinikusu (28164)

          Sure, I was using the GoPro as an example. There are smaller and lighter cameras (with more limited capabilities, etc), and in a few years, GoPros will be smaller and lighter, as well. I've got a 1.2MP camera in my bag right now that's half the size of a gopro that uses a little SD Card. A little hacking and I could put it in an even smaller/lighting housing (or use the helicopter itself as the housing), use a microSD card, etc.

    • by citizenr (871508)

      The irony here is Feinstein over dramatization of this event given what she authorizes on the SIC. Using this incident to call for stricter drone laws is like being hit by a paper airplane and calling for the FAA to investigate.

      She probably remembers it as a scary military drone. Human memory is weird like that, stories grow bigger over time. Remember Clinton disembarking from a chopper under sniper fire in Bosnia?

      http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2012/09/your-memory-is-like-the-telephone-game.html [northwestern.edu]

    • by hey! (33014)

      There are devices of roughly this size and not much more $$ that have still cameras on them.

      Why fly such a thing *except* to make someone think they're being photographed? That's harassment, and an invasion of privacy.

      • by cusco (717999)

        If so, it would be hard to find a more deserving target. Maybe Glenn Beck.

        • by iggymanz (596061)

          no

          we do NOT want to see a picture of Feinstein getting dressed.

          "I sensed a great disturbance in the Force, as if 300 million souls had gouged out their violated eyes with grapefruit spoons"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You are all missing the point, the point is not that she was spied, the point is how easy it is to spy on people, and it is only going to get easier.

    • The very fact that she *thought* she was being surveilled, and didn't like it, is more important than whether she was. After all, what you *think* is more important for "stand your ground" defense than what actually *is*.
  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:17PM (#45986979) Journal

    How dare you spy on us !

    How dare you try to listen in on privacies like political negotiations as we carve up all your reality and feed it back to you in exchange for votes! Do you know how hard it is to keep cover memes hiding the real reasons we do things in place?

  • by Bucc5062 (856482) <bucc5062@NOspam.gmail.com> on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:28PM (#45987175)

    Okay, I can on one hand understand the lack of love for the dear Senator. With the other, let us not miss an advantage to press an issue that till now did not seem important to our Surveillance Lady in Waiting. Finally a Senator gets a first hand taste (and let's assume it really happened*) of getting spied on and she's pissed off. Now she wants warrants and oversight so let's help in that direction to the full extent of what it means to have your privacy assaulted.

    I think it is sad that one of the privileged needs to be affected before they react with more then a sniff. It would be grand if our elected officials actually cared a damn for the people they represent, but I for one welcome her "outrage" and hope she uses it to tighten privacy laws and get tough on those who ignore our Constitutional rights.

    * all this noise of whether it was a real drone, it was made up, or did or did not carry a camera is plain stupid. If it happened then good, she got a taste of the future and does not like it. If it was fake or trumped up so she can cited a "legitimate" reason for her outcry, who cares. The story is her enlightened position.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I fully agree with your comments, but I get the impression that the outcome will be that "properly authorised" drones will remain usable as business as usable, but anything that looks even remotely like a flying device onto which a camera could conceivably be fitted would be cause for further harassment if found in the hands of private citizens.

  • by sl4shd0rk (755837) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:28PM (#45987181)

    Feinstein is probably amping up legislation to keep drones out of the hands of hobbyists and the general public.

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Feinstein is probably amping up legislation to keep drones out of the hands of hobbyists and the general public.

      Well, duh. Politicians love drones when they're spying on the proles, but let the proles spy on them... never.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:29PM (#45987199)

    Here's a picture of the drone. [imgur.com] I really did happen. Teh drones is shocking!

    Image taken from this video. [youtube.com]

    • by davecb (6526)
      Can you say "scam"? See a toy helicopter, report a predator (drone, that is).
  • DIFI (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rich_Lather (925834) on Friday January 17, 2014 @12:31PM (#45987233)
    Orwell's pigs suddenly come to mind.
  • "She ... recommended a search warrant requirement."

    The requirement for a warrant is already there, right in the Constitution. I guess that is ancient history now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It really annoys me that everybody is calling these things drones. THEY ARE NOT. They are remotely piloted vehicles. A Drone has no pilot and follows a preprogrammed route or follows a set of programming and instructions and has no pilot. Such as the Drones that Amazon would use to deliver packages. Or creating a drone to follow a target based on a gps signal. Or to be launched and collect reconnaissance data of a specified area. I have a real problem with Drones being used by law enforcement or the m

    • It really annoys me that everybody is calling these things drones. THEY ARE NOT. They are remotely piloted vehicles.

      In this case, it was apparently a toy. So, only pretty loosely an RPV.

  • (a) Who needs drones when you have deep space telescopes pointed at the surface of the Earth?
    (b) This is an attempt at distraction from the very real problem of the NSA intensively spying on ordinary Americans without a warrant founded on probable cause.
    (c) Feinstein needs to be out of the Senate. I hope a good Democratic candidate challenges her.

    • (a) Who needs drones

      Anyone who wants to read a car number plate, a news headline, identify an individual, look in a window from a low angle, launch a missile, acquire images at better than 30cm resolution, not spend half a billion dollars...

      when you have deep space telescopes pointed at the surface of the Earth?

      You don't. Or if you do, you're using the wrong ones.

      (b) This is an attempt at distraction from the very real problem of the NSA intensively spying on ordinary Americans without a warrant founded on probable cause.

      No, it's just some crazy lady.

  • Me and my GF just love to target practice!
  • At least as far as common sense goes she seems to always back the wrong horse. I think I disagree with her on every single issue I've ever heard her talk about.
  • by PPH (736903)

    Digging through TFA and links, it appears that the 'surveillance drone' was a toy RC helicopter. With something like a 6" blade diameter. Yeah, you could put a tiny camera on one. But they have a range of something like 100 feet. If one came up to my window, the operator would have to be on my lawn ......

    I'd love to see Feinstein's response to some kid smacking a baseball through her window. She'd probably still be locked in her panic room.

  • These politicians drone on about security, and we are less safe, they drone on about freedom, for others, not you. The only drones I see, are the elected and non-elected officials squeezing us into smaller and smaller boxes that they can be ignored and forgotten about. The corporate drones want us asleep or dead. The worst droning is silence.

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