Residents of San Diego county are justifiably concerned that new drone technology will soon be tested over their homes and schools. The area has recently been approved as an official FAA drone testing site. The people of Julian, California, in San Diego County, packed a crowded forum on the test site hosted by Back Country Voices. The event brought together a meeting of the minds to brainstorm ways to hold their local government accountable for brokering this deal with the FAA.
Their concerns went beyond mere privacy concerns. What happens if a drone crashes and starts a fire? Who will be responsible? Will weapons be tested? How will local airspace be shared? Primary among the citizen’s concerns were the threats to privacy posed by the testing program.
The FAA has put forward its Final Privacy Requirements that will govern independent subcontractors testing drone surveillance technology over the area. While the privacy requirements do restrict the amount of data collected and retained by subcontractors, it specifically provides in Article 3(b) that “applicable law” will control. Since currently applicable law has, to date, failed to address the constitutionality of federal data collection, the possibility of constitutional overreaches remains.
Perhaps more disturbing is the fact § 10 of the Supplementary Portion of the report establishes that the FAA will not oversee compliance with their own privacy rules. Instead, they will rely on the independent subcontractors to hold themselves accountable. The contractors are then expected to make public the results of their self imposed audit, but obviously this report will only go as far as the subcontractors scruples. With public access to the private actions of corporations engaged in drone research restricted by inadequate disclosure requirements, absent a whistleblower, the privacy regulations are functionally toothless.
The room at the Julian Library begins to fill to capacity
Bill of Rights Defense Committee | BORDC Legal Fellow Matthew Kellegrew was in attendance to talk about what drone surveillance means for those concerned with 4th Amendment protections and what people can do from a grass roots level. Drone regulation in particular presents an excellent example of how local coalitions and organizing can have an impact on a national issue. The meeting culminated in a lively back-and-forth about the nature of trans-partisan organizing, innovative approaches to privacy threats and how creative challenges to NSA spying can be used as a model to fight the proliferation of drones from the local level.
The group conversation made clear that business-as-usual politics will not be effective in stemming the privacy threats of emergent technologies presented by drone use. The intergenerational discourse had at the meeting highlighted the creativity that can result when people of divergent viewpoints and experiences put their heads together. Older members of the gathering made the connection between the domestic development of drones as the inheritor of the bloody legacy of drones used against children and civilians in the middle east. One high school student in attendance brilliantly postulated that the city might set out standards that would guarantee a tort cause of action for civilians harmed by drone testing that specifically identified their potential impact on mental illness.
Lisa Elkins of Back Country Voices, encourages attendees to sign the petition created by the group and how San Diego County citizens can voice their concerns to State and local officials.
Local meetings like the one held in Julian hosted by the Back Country Voices are essential for developing the types of dynamic actions that will result in comprehensive, constitutionally sound drone regulation. Without a discourse that crosses many spectrum’s and incorporates political, racial, generational and community diversity, the movement towards a restoration of the Bill of Rights could be doomed to spin its wheels in the same malaise of inaction that has gotten us in this mess in the first place.
The citizens of Julian remind us all that no matter how big or small your town is, we all have a crucial role to play in keeping the government accountable to the constitution.
“I would say a person who feels that they have nothing to hide right now is not thinking ahead of the game in terms of what kind of technologies are going to come forward,” said Legal Fellow Matthew Kellegrew in an interview with San Diego Fox 5 television on drones. ” This is something that people can have a say in because it is so new. Really, we can’t wait for the courts to catch up. People have to advocate for themselves.”
DO YOU WANT SAN DIEGO COUNTY TO BECOME A NATIONAL DRONE TEST SITE?
Residents of San Diego were given very little information and notice about this proposal. There were no public forums, no opportunities for public input, nor any venue to voice concerns regarding what’s at stake for testing drones in our county.
In response to questions and concerns about domestic drones, ‘BCV’ has invited members of the FAA, ACLU, the Cal UAS Portal team, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, law enforcement, S.D. Veterans for Peace Foundation, State and local officials, Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), environmentalist, pilots, firefighters, and others.
‘Back Country Voices‘ has scheduled an additional public outreach and education meeting to address drone testing in the back country.
Informed citizens are truly the strength of a democracy.
Please join us and share your voice!
Town Hall Meeting: Dec. 4th, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Julian Town Hall/Julian Chamber of Commerce. 2129 Main Street, Julian, CA. 92036
Back Country Voices Website
Back Country Voices’ Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/170624526472012/
You can also follow us on Twitter
Back Country Voices Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
3-501. PRESENTMENT. – Legal Information Institute: an agreement of the parties, or other applicable law or rule.
- Proposed drone test site worries the backcountry (backcountryvoices.wordpress.com)
- Drone Manufacturers Whine That They Are Misunderstood (backcountryvoices.wordpress.com)
- Drone Testing Area Creates Huge Liability, and Many Questions (backcountryvoices.wordpress.com)
- Drone Development Has Exceeded The Pace Of The Law (backcountryvoices.wordpress.com)
- Legislation to Promote Transparency, Privacy for Commercial and Government Drone Use (backcountryvoices.wordpress.com)
- Back Country Citizens Concerned About Drones (backcountryvoices.wordpress.com)
- Petition for Accountability and Transparency: Citizen’s Concerned About Drone Testing In San Diego County (backcountryvoices.wordpress.com)
- Julian California residents voice their opposition to drone testing (constitutioncampaign.org)
- Do You Want San Diego County to Become a National Drone Test Site? (backcountryvoices.wordpress.com)