I was planning to write on this topic this week and still may, but events are getting away from me. I never thought I'd say these words, but hooray for state Rep. Angel Cruz:
Concerned about violations of privacy by drones, State Rep. Angel Cruz of Philadelphia is proposing that law-enforcement agencies in Pennsylvania get court approval for any unmanned aerial surveillance.
The bill, which has nine cosponsors, including Republicans and Democrats, is likely to be introduced next week, said Cruz, a Democrat.
The amendment to the state's criminal code, similar to one he first proposed a couple of years ago, would limit drone use to investigating serious crimes, where the penalty could be year or more in prison.
Although the bill doesn't address whether drones can be armed or owned by citizens or businesses - such as news organizations - lawmakers will address those issues, Cruz said.
This can and will be refined, but it seems like a reasonable first try at a compromise. On one hand, there are occasions where a drone could certainly be useful for good purposes -- finding a lost hiker in remote woods, for example. But if they're just going to be another annexation to an ever-growing police state, then we can do without them. Also, I think the more debate we have about how drones are used here in the U.S., the more we'll also focus on how they're being used to kill people abroad.
UPDATE: A very thoughtful essay on drones from a great American writer, Esquire's Tom Junod.