Friday, February 10, 2012

FAA Authorization Act - #3642 - Drones Over U.S. Get OK by Congress - Washington Times (2) Spying on Europe's Farms With Satellites and Drones - News Europe

Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s … a drone, and it’s watching you. That’s what privacy advocates fear from a bill Congress passed this week to make it easier for the government to fly unmanned spy planes in U.S. airspace. The FAA Reauthorization Act, which President Obama is expected to sign, also orders the Federal Aviation Administration to develop regulations for the testing and licensing of commercial drones by 2015. Privacy advocates say the measure will lead to widespread use of drones for electronic surveillance by police agencies across the country and eventually by private companies as well. “There are serious policy questions on the horizon about privacy and surveillance, by both government agencies and commercial entities,” said Steven Aftergood, who heads the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. The Electronic Frontier Foundation also is “concerned about the implications for surveillance by government agencies,” said attorney Jennifer Lynch. The provision in the legislation is the fruit of “a huge push by lawmakers and the defense sector to expand the use of drones” in American airspace, she added.  Read more........

WITH THE E.P.A. OUT OF CONTROL, IS IT BEYOND THE REALM OF POSSIBILITIES DRONES COULD BE USED FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SPYING, ESPECIALLY IF OBAMA IS REELECTED.
SPYING ON EUROPE'S FARMS WITH SATELLITES AND DRONES - NEWS EUROPE - Farmers who claim more EU subsidies than they should, or who break Common Agricultural Policy rules, are now more likely to be caught out by a camera in the sky than an inspector calling with a clipboard. How do they feel about being watched from above? Imagine a perfect walk in the country, a few years from now - tranquillity, clean air, birdsong in the trees and hedgerows, growing crops swaying in the breeze. Suddenly a model plane swoops overhead. But there is no-one around manipulating radio controls. This is not a toy, but a drone on a photographic mission. Meanwhile, hundreds of kilometres up in space, the same patch of land is being photographed by a satellite, which clearly pinpoints individual trees and animals. What is there to spy on here? No secret military installations, just farmland. But Europe's farms cost taxpayers billions of euros in subsidies each year, and EU agricultural inspectors are turning to technology to improve their patchy record on preventing fraud and waste.  Satellites have already been in use for several years, and drones are currently undergoing trials.  Scanning a farm with a satellite costs about one third as much as sending an inspector on a field visit - £115 ($180; 150 euros) rather than £310 ($490; 400 euros), says the UK's Rural Payments Agency (RPA), which is responsible for disbursing the subsidies in the UK and checking for irregularities.  Read more.......

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