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Texas Declares War On Robots 387

Mr_Blank writes "Organizations like the EFF and ACLU have been raising the alarm over increased government surveillance of U.S. citizens. Legislators haven't been quick to respond to concerns of government spying on citizens. But Texas legislators are apparently quite concerned that private citizens operating hobby drones might spot environmental violations by businesses. Representative Lance Gooden has introduced HB912 which proposes: 'A person commits an offense if the person uses or authorizes the use of an unmanned vehicle or aircraft to capture an image without the express consent of the person who owns or lawfully occupies the real property captured in the image. ('Image' is defined as including any type of recorded telemetry from sensors that measure sound waves, thermal, infrared, ultraviolet, visible light, or other electromagnetic waves, odor, or other conditions.)' Can you foresee any unintended consequences if this proposal becomes law?" Another reader notes that New Hampshire has introduced a similar bill: "Neal Kurk, a Republican member of New Hampshire's House of Representatives knows that those drones present a growing privacy concern, and in response has introduced a bill that would ban all aerial photography in the state. That is, unless you're working for the government. The bill, HB 619-FN (PDF), is blessedly short, and I suggest reading the whole thing for yourself." Here's part of the bill: "A person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if such person knowingly creates or assists in creating an image of the exterior of any residential dwelling in this state where such image is created by or with the assistance of a satellite, drone, or any device that is not supported by the ground."
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Texas Declares War On Robots

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @11:19AM (#43045115)

    If EFF or Dems proposed this, they'd be calling it a win for privacy, not an anti-environmental move. People have a right to privacy in places where they have a reasonable expectation.

  • As usual... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GWRedDragon ( 1340961 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @11:25AM (#43045183)
    As usual: one rule for the state, and one rule for the peons. They just forgot to add exemptions for their pals in certain industries.
  • by Spectre ( 1685 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @11:26AM (#43045207)

    There was a fellow who had as his hobbies being a private pilot and amateur photographer. Part of how he funded these hobbies was taking a nice camera with him on flights, photographing farms from the air, then selling the framed prints to the farm's residents. It was a bit of an odd business model, as when he was taking the photos he had not previously contacted the residents and had no idea if they would be willing to pay for the photos ...

    The way some of these bits of legislation are worded, that business model would be illegal. So that is a bit of an unintended consequence.

  • No film at 11 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shking ( 125052 ) <babulicm&cuug,ab,ca> on Friday March 01, 2013 @11:27AM (#43045229) Homepage
    I guess that's the end of New helicopters. Surveyors and cartographers rely on aerial photography Way to piss off the construction industry AND the press at the same time
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @11:36AM (#43045329) Homepage

    I think it might be easier so that we can properly make all of these class distinctions clear.

    So Assault weapons, for example, should only be available to government and government contractors who may or may not be working for the government at any given moment. Aerial drones? Same story.

    We have to make these class distinctions clear or else many people will unwittingly make the mistake of thinking we have a government of the people, by the people and/or for the people. This is simply not the case and we should all be 100% clear on that point.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 01, 2013 @11:46AM (#43045429)

    Fuck the enviromentalists and animal welfare nazis. If this law hurts PETA and greenpeace then we ALL win.

  • by pla ( 258480 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @11:52AM (#43045485) Journal
    I really don't get why so many American's are up in arms about un-manned aircraft - there have been aircraft "looking down into" their backyards for 100 years now, who cares if it has a pilot IN IT or not. Tons and tons of police driving by your house LOOKING INTO your yard.

    Inorite? We've used fighter jets to blow up brown people for decades, but only now do they start complaining about drone strikes?

    Oh, wait - Estimated cost of an F35, $110M. Actual cost of an unmanned reconnaissance drone, $299.99 []. Which of those do you see Officer Obie casually using to peek through your bedroom window or check out your backyard pool party?

    Overall, though, these rules completely disgust me. They get it exactly backward, allowing a class proven untrustworthy when given new surveillance technology to use them, while blocking any possible citizen-initiated use of the same.

    I suppose I have only one thing to say - I have a shotgun, and don't tolerate weird-looking noisy birds in my backyard. So go ahead, send me some challenging skeet, boys!
  • by TheSkepticalOptimist ( 898384 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @11:53AM (#43045497)

    To paraphrase:

    "We are worried that drones might catch us breaking the law. That is just unconstitutional, we have a right to break the law and not get caught."

  • by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @11:54AM (#43045501) Homepage Journal

    These are examples of laws used selectively on occassion to harass people who encounter an officer on a bad day. The local RC club isn't likely to run into problems but a group of kids using an AR.Drone to record their skateboarding might get fined and lose the device.

    It seems to be the way laws are written anymore. Everyone is a criminal in the eyes of the law, so be quiet, sit down and don't draw attention to yourself. If you speak out they'll find a way to come after you.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:00PM (#43045595)

    The founders of the US didn't want direct democracy because they were (rightly) afraid of rule by the uneducated mob.

    Unfortunately, the uneducated mob elects uneducated representatives, or worse, people who should know better, but turn off their "that's fucking stupid" filter because "I owe this guy a favor."

    I don't know what to replace what we've got, but clearly representative democracy has failed in many ways.


  • by scubamage ( 727538 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:09PM (#43045693)

    democrat, I'll bet. Liberal as well.

    I really hate people who automatically associate intelligence with political alignment. Google "non sequitur."

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:15PM (#43045787)

    Relax, corporations are people in nearly every way. They just can't vote. But to compensate for it, they decide who we get to vote on.

  • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:25PM (#43045907) Journal

    You didn't read the whole TFS, and just jumped to conclusions based on someone expressing a differing opinion than you, didn't you?

    Generally these balloons are manned, but not always, even so, if you read a little further down, you'll see.

    "Neal Kurk, a Republican member of New Hampshire's House of Representatives knows that those drones present a growing privacy concern, and in response has introduced a bill that would ban all aerial photography in the state. That is, unless you're working for the government. The bill, HB 619-FN (PDF), is blessedly short, and I suggest reading the whole thing for yourself."

    for which the GP's post is a perfectly valid response.

    If I were more like you, I could probably trail this up with
    "Republican, I'll bet. Conservative as well."
    However, there are potentially plenty of other reasons for your assinine behavior.

    Independant, I am. Moderate as well. Both parties suck as much ass as these two laws. It's just government fellatio of the corporate world, wasting our money and granting to the rich and powerful in the form or more money or power. Both parties do it, and the general population suffers.

    Now, if they banned government an private (but not just hobby) drones, these bills would be ok - but they aren't, they are targeting the least powerful groups to protect the more powerful groups.

  • by j00r0m4nc3r ( 959816 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @12:42PM (#43046079)
    You own the land not the air and space above it.

    No, I'm pretty sure you do own the airspace above your land up to a certain altitude, but you certainly don't own the airspace adjacent to your property, which is what this bill seems to be aimed at... If you don't want stray photons incriminating you, don't release them into adjacent areas.
  • Re:As usual... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GWRedDragon ( 1340961 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @01:00PM (#43046335)

    The main reason why there is no exemption for corporations is that you can't weasel out of this law by creating a "Green NPO" to sniff out their rotting waste cans.

    A typical solution to this 'problem' would be to require a license, predicated on a series of vague requirements, with broad discretionary authority for rejection. That way it could be ensured that only proper cronies gain access.

  • by publiclurker ( 952615 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @02:40PM (#43047525)
    Easy, they are Republicans. /s
  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Friday March 01, 2013 @03:08PM (#43047891)

    The Texas bill is specifically in response to a hobbyist model plane with video camera catching this [] slaughterhouse polluting a Texas river. I find it infuriating that the response of a politician to a polluter being caught isn't to ask the local EPA to more tightly monitor likely offenders but to criminalize the act of reporting the pollution!

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant