by Peter Colohan (he’s awesome!), Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President, April 19, 2013
Ever wonder where the Weather Channel gets its data? Where the satellite images for Google Earth come from? These data and much more come from a complex array of satellites, ocean buoys, stream gauges, human surveys, and other platforms for collecting what the scientific community calls Earth observations. These data are used every day to protect life and property and answer key questions about our planet.Today, the Obama Administration’s National Science and Technology Council released a National Strategy for Civil Earth Observations—a framework for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the Nation’s Earth-observation enterprise. Currently, 11 Federal departments and agencies engage in Earth observation activities, collecting volumes of important data about the Earth on an ongoing basis, using an array of sophisticated tools and systems. The new Strategy outlines a process for evaluating and prioritizing Earth-observation investments according to their value to society in critical areas such as agriculture, global change, disasters, water resources, and weather.Each year, the U.S. Government invests significant resources in Earth-observations systems to collect data about Earth’s land, oceans, ecosystems, and atmosphere. Together, these systems take the pulse of our planet, providing critical Earth-system data that scientists and analysts can then turn into usable information about climate and weather, disaster events, land-use changes, ecosystem health, natural resources, and more. Ultimately, information and services derived from Earth-observation data—including some as ubiquitous as weather forecasts and GPS-navigation—are used by policy makers, resource managers, business leaders, first-responders, and citizens to make important day-to-day decisions.But as the Nation’s Earth-observation capacity has grown, so has the complexity of the Earth-observation endeavor. The demand for data, the complexity of the tools required to collect those data, and the sheer amount of data being collected, all are increasing. The National Strategy for Civil Earth Observations aims to help Federal agencies face these challenges by better-organizing existing Earth-observation systems and information, and coordinating plans for future projects. In support of the Obama Administration’s Open Data Initiatives, this Strategy also provides specific guidance on how agencies can make these Earth observations more open and accessible to the public.Going forward, the Strategy will be used as a basis to inform a broad National Plan for Civil Earth Observations—a blueprint for future investments in US Earth-observing systems, including agency roles and responsibilities, and creative solutions to challenges related to maintaining the Nation’s Earth-observing systems. It will also reinforce the United States’ ongoing commitment to work with international partners through the multi-national Group on Earth Observations GEO.The Strategy released today provides an evidence-based framework for routine assessment and planning across the entire family of Federal agencies engaged in Earth observations. It will help agencies compare notes, prioritize activities, and improve the quality of data about the planet—with the ultimate goal of meeting society’s most pressing data and information needs. Read the Strategy here.Learn more about global Earth-observation efforts here.Peter Colohan is a Senior Policy Analyst at OSTP
By Alex Byers, Politico’s Morning Tech, April 12, 2013
CHAFFETZ: ‘EVERY CONFIDENCE’ THAT GPS ACT WILL CLEAR COMMITTEE – Rep. Jason Chaffetz is plenty positive when it comes to whether his bill – which would require law enforcement to score a warrant before obtaining the location of your cellphone – will pass the House Judiciary panel. “…”The last thing the major carriers or hardware companies want to do is have people become afraid of their phones or other mobile devices,” he said. Chaffetz said he didn’t have an exact timeline on next steps, although your MT-er has heard rumblings for a while about a location privacy hearing later this month. Chaffetz added that he’d prefer tackling the issue as a standalone item, instead of conflating the issue with email privacy reform – the opposite of what’s been suggested by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee that will likely have jurisdiction and a co-sponsor of the GPS Act.
“Technology is changing how we do everything, from connecting with friends to investigating our family history. While most of these changes are for the better, the reality is that many of these new technologies expose us to serious privacy risks, especially as legislation has struggled to keep up. Yet both here in the U.S. and around the world, that could soon change. There are numerous new and pending laws that are starting to seriously tackle the challenges posed by modern technology, helping close gaps in legislation and enforcement that open you up to online stalking, medical data breaches, and disclosure of your online data. Even if you don’t realize it, many of these laws can have a major impact on your life, from how you buy insurance to which bits of personal information are gathered while you shop online, go to the bank, or talk on the phone. What follows is a brief guide to many of the newer and upcoming laws regarding privacy in the United States. You’ll learn what the bills propose, how they’ll affect your life, and when they’ll go into effect, if they haven’t already.”
For the full guide to current and pending legislation, please visit The Legislation of Privacy: New Laws That Will Change Your Life – Background Check.
Privacy experts say that a pair of new mobile privacy bills recently introduced in Texas are among the “most sweeping” ever seen. And they say the proposed legislation offers better protection than a related privacy bill introduced this week in Congress.If passed, the new bills would establish a well-defined, probable-cause-driven warrant requirement for all location information. That’s not just data from GPS, but potentially pen register, tap and trace, and tower location data as well. Such data would be disclosed to law enforcement “if there is probable cause to believe the records disclosing location information will provide evidence in a criminal investigation.”
For full text of the article, please visit Texas proposes one of nation’s “most sweeping” mobile privacy laws | Ars Technica.
- Texas proposes one of nation’s “most sweeping” mobile privacy laws (arstechnica.com)
- Privacy Ref Introduces Interactive, Virtual Data Privacy Roundtable Series (prweb.com)
by Kelsey Atherton, Pop Sci, March 6, 2013
Yesterday morning, an Alitalia pilot reported seeing a remote-controlled aircraft near New York’s JFK airport, where he was landing. The drone was flying about 4 to 5 miles west of the airport at an altitude of about 1,750 feet, and it came within just 200 feet of the Alitalia plane, the pilot said. … But was it legal?
…Law is slow to catch up to new technology, so drones are not currently regulated in U.S. air space. The FAA is in the process of picking drone-testing sites, which will be used to help develop domestic drone rules. Until then, unmanned aircraft are governed by model airplane rules, and model airplane rules are pretty lax….
For full text of this article, please visit A Drone Flew Within 200 Feet Of A Commercial Jet. How Legal Was It? | Popular Science.
By Christopher Rees and Kevin Madders, BBC News, 28 February 2013
Since the issues are transnational, we’ve proposed the development of an international Geo-information Convention.Its aim is to be technology-neutral, so that it is future-proof enough also to cover new systems like hyper spectral sensors reminiscent of Star Trek and drones with privacy implications reminiscent of 1984.Continue reading the main story “Start Quote What limits should we put on use of its power?”The essential questions are: how do we make geoinformation reliable enough for the particular applications for which it is to be used, and what limits should we put on use of its power?Work on these difficult questions has already begun through the International Bar Association.
For full text of this op-ed, visit BBC News – Viewpoint: We need ground rules for geo-information.
Thank you to Adena Schutzberg (@adenas) for passing this along.
- We need ground rules for geo-information (bbc.co.uk)
by Kit Eaton, Fast Company, Feb 18, 2013
New draft legislation in the House of Representatives is attempting to restrict the private use of drones, making it a misdemeanor to use a UAV to photograph a person or their property without their explicit permission. Public space use would be equally limited, according to the “Preserving American Privacy Act of 2013″ (PDF), requiring a max altitude of just six feet. Law enforcement bodies would have to obtain a warrant or court order to be able collect information on individuals in a private area. …
For full text of the article, visit Lawmakers Target Drones With “Preserving American Privacy Act Of 2013″ | Fast Company.
- Lawmakers Target Drones With “Preserving American Privacy Act Of 2013″ (fastcompany.com)
- Congressional Hearing Highlights Lack of Domestic Drone Rules (geodatapolicy.wordpress.com)
- Drones a target of U.S. House bill (computerworld.co.nz)
by Kelsey Atherton, Popular Science, February 15, 2013
…most Americans are not terribly fond of the idea of their neighbors flying cameras around and taking pictures of them in their backyards. The problem is that, right now, there is no explicit federal guidance prohibiting this. … according to testimony by Dr. Gerald Dillingham, civilian drones are governed by the same rules that apply to model aircraft–which is basically no rules at all. … Dr. Dillingham, director of civil aviation issues in the Government Accountability Office, testified that while the Federal Aviation Administration has a clear safety mandate, it doesn’t have one for privacy. So it would fall to Congress to decide which governmental body–the FAA or some other organization–should draw up privacy regulations. ….
For full text of this article, please visit Congressional Hearing Offers A Sneak Peek At The Future Of Domestic Drone Rules | Popular Science.
by Rebecca Boyle, POPSCI, February 12, 2013
On a hazy day last January, an unmanned aircraft enthusiast piloted his camera-equipped drone in the vicinity of a Dallas meatpacking plant, cruising around 400 feet in the air. To test his equipment, he took some photos of the Trinity River with a point-and-shoot camera mounted to his $75 foam airframe. When he retrieved the remote-controlled aircraft, he noticed something odd in the photos: A crimson stream, which appeared to be blood, leaking into a river tributary. …On Dec. 26, a grand jury handed down several indictments against the owners of the Columbia Packing Company for dumping pig blood into a creek. … Under a new law proposed in the Texas legislature, sponsored by a lawmaker from the Dallas suburbs, this type of activity could soon be criminal. …
Texas House Bill 912–and similar laws under debate right now in Oregon and elsewhere–are driving a burgeoning debate about how to use and control unmanned air systems, from an AR.Drone to a quadcopter. The Federal Aviation Administration is in the process of drafting new rules governing unmanned aircraft in civilian airspace, including military-style aircraft. But in the meantime, plenty of cheap, easy-to-use aircraft are already popular among hobbyists and, increasingly, activists and law enforcement.
For full text of the article Even Hobby Drones Could Be Made Illegal In Texas | Popular Science.
- Meet Your Neighborhood Drones (blogs.sfweekly.com)
- The Lone Star State Has No Need for These Picture-Taking, Privacy-Invading Drones (betabeat.com)
- Some Worried “Eyes In The Sky” See More Than They’re Supposed To (baltimore.cbslocal.com)
- From Predators to tacocopters: welcome to the future (abc.net.au)
- Some states seek to curb use of drones by police (cbsnews.com)
by Jason Koebler, US News & World Report, Feb 5, 2012
The Virginia General Assembly passed a bill Tuesday that will put a two-year moratorium on the use of drones by state and local law enforcement. If signed by Gov. Bob McDonnell, Virginia will become the first state in the U.S. to enact drone regulations. Virginia House Bill 2012 easily passed Monday by a vote of 83-16 and its companion, Senate Bill 1331, passed Tuesday by a vote of 36-2.
For full text of the article, visit Virginia Becomes First State to Pass Drone Regulations – US News and World Report.