Times Record: Eyes in the sky (April 5, 2013)

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

— Fourth Amendment, U.S. Constitution

¦ ¦ ¦

When you go online, you are being tracked.

Slide a credit card at a checkout, go through an EZPass toll lane, visit a bank, rent a movie on Netflix, check out a library book or purchase groceries, and you are being tracked.

Sad to say, there are very few moments in your day without the watchful eye of business or government bearing down on you.

Now your private property — the last bastion of personal freedom — is under surveillance, or could be, if we decide to ignore sensible regulations on drones.

Mainers should not be forced to live under the constant watchful eye of unmanned aircraft hovering around us and sending footage of our private acts to police. Drone technology can be useful for search and rescue and narrowly tailored investigations, but police clearly should not be allowed to use drones with impunity, for mass surveillance, or without a warrant.

Next week, the Judiciary Committee has the opportunity to update privacy laws that haven’t been revised since 1986.

The bills — LD 236 and LD 415 — focus on protecting our Fourth Amendment rights by requiring police to get warrants before using drones or tracking our cell phones. The vote is April 11.

Judiciary Committee Reps. Charlie Priest, D-Brunswick, and Jennifer DeChant, D-Bath, should vote these bills forward. Citizens who value their personal privacy may want to give them a call.

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