By Steve Aftergood, Secrecy News, January 31, 2013
The development of unmanned aerial systems (or drones) for military and civilian applications appears to be accelerating faster than the normal policy process can adapt to it. Aside from festering doubts about the legality, propriety and wisdom of their routine use in targeted killing operations, drone programs are beset by budgetary confusion, and a host of privacy and other legal problems are poised to emerge with the expanded use of drones in domestic airspace. … Meanwhile, “Perhaps the most contentious issue concerning the introduction of drones into U.S. airspace is the threat that this technology will be used to spy on American citizens,” said a new report from the Congressional Research Service.
For full text of the article visit Secrecy News here.
A copy of the CRS report was obtained by Secrecy News. See Integration of Drones into Domestic Airspace: Selected Legal Issues, January 30, 2013.
See also Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS): Manufacturing Trends, January 30, 2013.
- Drones spur fierce debate in Oregon over privacy, technology, jobs (oregonlive.com)
- Drone Home (time.com)
- MPAA Lobbying For Drones In Movie Industry (fastcompany.com)
- imabonehead: NOVA | Rise of the Drones (pbs.org)
The Congressional Research Service has published an update to one of their GIS reports:
by Pete Folger, Specialist in Energy and Natural Resources Policy, April 27, 2012
Congress has recognized the challenge of coordinating and sharing geospatial data from the local, county, and state level to the national level, and vice versa. The cost to the federal government of gathering and coordinating geospatial information has also been an ongoing concern. As much as 80% of government information has a geospatial component, according to various sources. The federal government’s role has changed from being a primary provider of authoritative geospatial information to coordinating and managing geospatial data and facilitating partnerships. Congress explored issues of cost, duplication of effort, and coordination of geospatial information in hearings during the 108th Congress. However, challenges to coordinating how geospatial data are acquired and used—collecting duplicative data sets, for example—at the local, state, and federal levels, in collaboration with the private sector, are not yet resolved. Two bills introduced in the 112th Congress, H.R. 1620 and H.R. 4322, would address aspects of duplication and coordination of geospatial information.
by Richard M. Thompson, Law Clerk,Congressional Research Service Report #R42109, December 1, 2011
Technology has advanced considerably since the framers established the constitutional parameters for searches and seizures in the Fourth Amendment. What were ink quills and parchment are now cell phones and the Internet. It is undeniable that these advances in technology threaten to diminish privacy. Law enforcement’s use of cell phones and GPS devices to track an individual’s movements brings into sharp relief the challenge of reconciling technology, privacy, and law. Beyond the Constitution, a miscellany of statutes and cases may apply to these tracking activities. One such statute is the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA), P.L. 99-508, 100 Stat. 1848 (1986), which protects individual privacy and governs the methods by which law enforcement may retrieve electronic communications information for investigative purposes, including pen registers, trap and trace devices, wiretaps, and tracking devices. The primary debate surrounding cell phone and GPS tracking is not whether they are permitted by statute but rather what legal standard should apply: probable cause, reasonable suspicion, or something less.
From Secrecy News, September 16, 2011:
- “Climate Change: Conceptual Approaches and Policy Tools,” August 29, 2011
- “Homeland Security Department: FY2012 Appropriations,” September 2, 2011
- “Congressional Primer on Major Disasters and Emergencies,” August 31, 2011
Bruce R. Lindsay, Analyst in Emergency Management Policy
Francis X. McCarthy, Analyst in Emergency Management Policy
Congressional Research Service, June 21, 2011
SUMMARY: The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the Stafford Act) is the principal authority governing federal emergency and disaster response in the United States. The act authorizes the President to issue three categories of declaration: (1) major disaster, (2) emergency, or (3) fire assistance declarations in response to incidents that overwhelm the resources of state and local governments. Once a declaration is issued, a wide range of federal disaster assistance becomes available to eligible individuals and households, public entities, and certain nonprofit organizations. Disaster assistance authorized by the Stafford Act is appropriated by Congress and provided through the Disaster Relief Fund.
Emergency declarations supplement and promote coordination of local and state efforts such as evacuations and protection of public assets. They may also be declared prior to the impact of an incident to protect property, public health and safety and lessen or avert the threat of a major disaster or catastrophe. Major disaster declarations are issued after an incident and constitute broader authority to help states and localities, as well as families and individuals, recover from the damage caused by the event. Fire assistance declarations provide grants to state and localities to manage fires that threaten to cause major disasters.
Recently there has been discussion that the Stafford Act should be amended to include a fourth category, generally called a “catastrophic declaration.” If approved, catastrophic declarations could be invoked for high-profile, large-scale incidents that threaten the lives of many people, create tremendous damage, and pose significant challenges to timely recovery efforts.
This report examines concerns expressed by policymakers and experts that current Stafford Act declarations are inadequate to respond to, and recover from, highly destructive events, and presents the arguments for and against amending the act to add a catastrophic declaration amendment. This report also includes data analyses of past and potential disasters to determine what incidents might be deemed as catastrophic, and explores alternative policy options that might obviate the need for catastrophic declarations.
- Tribal Sovereignty Disaster Legislation Introduced (indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com)
- Lawmakers consider governance in disaster (bendbulletin.com)
Congressional Research Service Report: Privacy Protections for Personal Information Online
Summary: There is no comprehensive federal privacy statute that protects personal information. Instead, a patchwork of federal laws and regulations govern the collection and disclosure of personal information and has been addressed by Congress on a sector-by-sector basis. Federal laws and regulations extend protection to consumer credit reports, electronic communications, federal agency records, education records, bank records, cable subscriber information, video rental records, motor vehicle records, health information, telecommunications subscriber information, children’s online information, and customer financial information. Some contend that this patchwork of laws and regulations is insufficient to meet the demands of today’s technology. Congress, the Obama Administration, businesses, public interest groups, and citizens are all involved in the discussion of privacy solutions. This report examines some of those efforts with respect to the protection of personal information. This report provides a brief overview of selected recent developments in the area of federal privacy law. This report does not cover workplace privacy laws or state privacy laws.
For a copy of this report, see CRS Report R41756, Privacy Protections for Personal Information Online, by Gina Stevens, April 6, 2011.
For information on access to electronic communications, see CRS Report R41733, Privacy: An Overview of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, by Charles Doyle.
- “Kerry-McCain Senate Bill Introduced to Protect Consumer Internet Privacy” and related posts (mybanktracker.com)
- MySpace Sued Over Privacy Loophole (blogs.wsj.com)
- Privacy Protective Android App Developed (infosecurity.us)
- Well-Meaning “Privacy Bill of Rights” Wouldn’t Stop Online Tracking (eff.org)
- Privacy dispute tests Obama’s earlier promises (news.cnet.com)
- The FTC And The Future Of Privacy Enforcement In America (businessinsider.com)
- Schwartz On Security: Online Privacy Battles Advertising Profits (informationweek.com)
- Europe Moves to Give Consumers Control of Online Advertising (pcworld.com)
- Online Advertisers Pitch Self-Regulation Framework (informationweek.com)