Last year, MuckRock and The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) received documents from a Freedom of Information Request that found that the San Diego Sheriff's Office (SDSO) was in communication with a drone manufacturer with the intention of purchasing surveillance drones. The information was received when the Seattle Police Department released 250 pages of email, internal memos, contracts, and sample sales quotes. One of the sample sales quotes was for SDSO [here is the sales quote]. The quote stated that the San Diego Sheriff's Office was looking into purchasing a Scout Air Reconnaissance System from Datron World Communication, Inc., a company based in Vista, California. Datron representatives have told MuckRock that the SDSO had visited them and left with a thumb-drive full of information on their products.
When MuckRock contacted the SDSO, on July 12, 2012 they said that they had no documents regarding Drones. It wasn't until months later, and persistence from MuckRock, that they finally admitted that they did, in fact, look into getting drones. However, for unnamed reasons, they did not purchase them just yet.
The fact that Police Departments across the nation are looking into, purchasing, and using drones brings up real concerns for private citizens and their valuable civil liberties. On June 12th of 2012, Senator Rand Paul introduced the bill, "Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2012." The bill said, with exceptions, that, "a person or entity acting under the authority, or funded in whole or in part by, the Government of the United States shall not use a drone to gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a statute or regulation except to the extent authorized in a warrant that satisfies the requirements of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States." On his website, Senator Paul said that "Americans going about their everyday lives should not be treated like criminals or terrorists and have their rights infringed upon by military tactics."
Fox News commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano spoke out against domestic drones on Fox News and stated that "The first American patriot that shoots down one of these drones that comes too close to his children in his backyard will be an American hero.” He has also written articles for Reason Magazine and LewRockwell.com.
Not everyone is against the domestic use of surveillance drones. The San Diego Free Press reported that local congressmen Rep. Duncan Hunter and Rep. Darrell Issa have recieved more than $200,000 from drone firms.
We already have security cameras all over the streets watching our every move. Leaked Stratfor emails released by the whitsleblowing group Wikileaks and allegedly provided by hacker Jeremy Hammond, have revealed a nationwide widespread surveillance system, which is provided by a private company, called TrapWire. Southern California is also a testing ground for facial recognition software developed by FaceFirst. RT reported that an unnamed San Diego law enforcement agency is using the technology.
Are you, a tax paying, law abiding citizen, willing to allow the San Diego Sheriff's Department to unconstitutionally spy on you with domestic drones? How much longer will it be before police drones are weaponized? Let me remind you of something Benjamin Franklin once said, "Those who trade freedom for security end up with neither."
Please leave your comments below on whether or not you support domestic surveillance drones in Imperial Beach and the rest of the nation.