Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Few Value Privacy, So Why Not Drones?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Few Value Privacy, So Why Not Drones?

Article excerpt

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson wants drones. He says that high- speed chases are dangerous, but when the word gets out that the police won't chase, bad guys run. That word is out. So Dotson wants to use drones to follow the bad guys when they run. Makes perfect sense to me.

But friends who are civil libertarians say that government always abuses power. Soon we will all be under constant surveillance. Big Brother is here!

It is hard to argue against that, especially in the light of the news that our phone calls have been monitored for some time.

Perhaps the drones will initially be used in lieu of high-speed chases. But what comes next? Will they start looking for guys in sagging pants? Maybe somebody smoking a joint in his backyard?

Actually, I am afraid the battle for privacy was lost some time ago.

I remember writing about an incident a couple of years ago when a friend and I were in a small boat on the Intracoastal Waterway in Florida. We saw a sign that said, "Slow Speed. Limited Wake." We slowed down. Apparently not enough. A nearby boat turned on flashing blue lights and came over to us. A young man and young woman wearing Fish and Wildlife Commission jackets politely told us we had been speeding. The young man started to write us a ticket.

Then another boat came zipping up. On its side were the words, "U.S. Customs and Border Protection." Four agents were in the boat. They tied up to the FWC boat. An agent said to my friend and me, "Do you mind if we look through your bags?"

"Of course not," said my friend. He tossed our duffel bags over to the FWC boat. The customs agent went through them meticulously. He searched through our dopp kits. He was looking, I suppose, for a joint or a small container of pot. Maybe we were Baby Boomers reliving Woodstock.

I said nothing. Any objections would have just aroused suspicion. I was eager to get going.

Later, my friend and I talked about it. He said he was conditioned to authorities' pawing through his things at airports. He had a good point. We do get accustomed to these things.

Sometime earlier, I had written about a fellow who was busted and eventually imprisoned for having child pornography on his computer. …

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