The Privacy Battle Over Police Drones in New York

In , drones are making headlines. Lawmakers in Albany are debating their use by police, sparking heated conversations about public safety and personal privacy. With the increasing deployment of drones by the police, the lines between protection and privacy invasion blur.

Union Square recently witnessed the benefits of drones when they were used to control a riot. These flying cameras also aided after a parking garage incident in Lower Manhattan and are frequently seen patrolling for sharks.

However, not everyone is convinced. Concerns arise when the data drones collect potentially invades the privacy of everyday citizens.

New York State Assemblymember Ron Kim expressed, “When there's a natural crisis or catastrophe or an emergency, we should be able to deploy the latest technology to pinpoint what that danger to the community and eliminate it.”

Yet, he also warned against using drones where people expect privacy. He stated, “no third parties should have access to our conversations, our images, our families or friends.”

Kim is pushing for a bill that limits drone usage by law enforcement. This would mandate obtaining a warrant under specific conditions.

He emphasized, “If people are peacefully protesting and there is no viable threat, people still have First Amendment rights.”

Former NYPD Chief of Detectives, Robert Boyce, sees it differently. He believes that ignoring drones is a danger to the public.

Boyce notes the existing rules, saying, “We already have the Handschu agreement where we're bound to comply with it…That's already in place.”

The Nassau County police department stands by its use of drones, highlighting their versatility in “monitoring sea life near our shores, and access to situations where their use provides an increased measure of safety for our officers and the public.”

Similarly, the New York State Police applaud the drones for their cost-effectiveness, responsiveness, and safety benefits.

Amid this debate, Mayor Eric Adams, currently in , reportedly chimed in on the broader topic of tech and privacy.

“Some , outside of Israel and others, use technology that just will not fit in America's belief on privacy,” Adams commented. “We are going to stay within the barriers of our laws.”

While some express concerns about third-party entities profiting from public drone data, law enforcement experts argue that existing protocols effectively address these issues.

As technology advances, so does the tug-of-war between safety and privacy. Only time will tell how New York strikes its balance.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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