The Washington Times - March 4, 2013, 02:14PM

Bristling with cameras and sensors, unmanned drones patrol borders and industrial pipelines here and abroad. They peek at troubled neighborhoods, wildlife areas and are now used in experimental news gathering projects by edgy journalists. They can be hefty aircraft, or out-of-the-box toys; some armed, most not.

Drone videos are indeed popular online.


But imagine this: You spot a drone from a law enforcement agency flying over your house taking videos or photos. Do you have the “right” to destroy it?

Almost half of Americans - 47 percent - say why, yes, you do.

Another 47 percent say no, leave that drone alone. So says a Reason/Rupe poll released Friday. The poll also found uncommon agreement among the political parties: 50 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats say citizens do not have the right to destroy the device under such circumstances.

The American Civil Liberties Union, meanwhile, has already issued “safeguards” for drone use, with an eye on privacy. Among their recommendations:

“Drones should be deployed by law enforcement only with a warrant, in an emergency, or when there are specific and articulable grounds to believe that the drone will collect evidence relating to a specific criminal act.”

“Images should be retained only when there is reasonable suspicion that they contain evidence of a crime or are relevant to an ongoing investigation or trial.”

“Usage policy on domestic drones should be decided by the public’s representatives, not by police departments, and the policies should be clear, written, and open to the public. Use of domestic drones should be subject to open audits and proper oversight to prevent misuse.”

“Domestic drones should not be equipped with lethal or non-lethal weapons.”