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No Drones Over My Neighborhood & Ag Protection

May 2, 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARecently I’ve talked about ag protection laws, celebrity support of invasion of privacy, transparency and a host of other topics. I see support of the use of drones to run surveillance – trespass! – on farms even if it harms the animals (livestock spooked through fences for one). I see thousands of comments of “if you don’t have anything to hide…”

On a bigger level, my friends Ryan and Mike brought it up in an Eatocracy blog. Among the comments:

Agree!!put these animal torturers and their accomplices (anyone who eats meat or animal products) out of business…make the world a better place!

So it is assumed that anyone who raises animals does so inhumanely and, therefore, needs to be watched. So after months of seeing such things I admit I have to chuckle at what I saw yesterday.

First was a petition to tell Congress “No drones over my neighborhood.” This says:

Aerial, warrantless surveillance is a violation of our Fourth Amendment rights and our right to privacy. The recently enacted Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill will, for the first time, effectively allow the use of “unmanned aerial vehicles” (UAVs, more commonly known as drones) to conduct warrantless spying on American citizens–with no real limits and no court authorization.

Now I’m not opposed to that at all. I don’t think the government needs to be watching private citizens. I don’t think organizations and other citizens need to be watching on private property either but I get what do we have to hide?

Indeed. Then I see another high tech device which some business owners don’t want in their place of business. Google glass, enabling surveillance anywhere. For any reason. Stored in a cloud for instant access.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPeople are uneasy and outraged. It’s no one else’s business. It’s a violation of private property. The same things many in agriculture say about dishonest video taping.

So it’s uploaded and a little creative editing. That family disagreement – it’s now a youtube sensation and family services is on the way. The doctor called to say that breakfast you had didn’t abide by the insurance rules so the insurance is cancelling payment for further treatment. Far fetched?

Maybe. Maybe not! Not all is as it seems on video –   context and explanation matter doesn’t it? Yet agriculture businesses that raise animals are denied that when it’s guilty as represented in the latest go vegan campaign.

How about the same techniques for other campaigns – from child abuse to drunk driving? Never mind a trial – just put it up online. Can you imagine?!

Remember much of this is not by law enforcement – it’s someone who doesn’t like what you do – and guess what folks it’s pretty much assured that whatever you do quite a few people out there aren’t going to like it. Check again that first quote – “anyone who eats meat or animal products” – statistically that’s over 95% of the population but because the minority of vegans don’t like it full steam ahead to harass you! Not just farmers…YOU! Our customers.

You too can be in a viral headline. But now it’s different – that’s something only farm people should be subject to. Those people who live away from cities intentionally and whom many in cities don’t want to live next to.

Like most issues, this one has several aspects. Are you comfortable having your life open to the world? Your neighbor’s?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2013 11:28 AM

    I really want my own drone, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I do own one sometime in the next few years. Drones can be a great resource for farmers. I can send one out to give fields a close inspection, especially when equipped with a thermal imaging camera. This data will help me make better in-season decisions when the crops are tall and it’s hard to get around. I could make better use of inputs and maybe even use less inputs. I’ve heard of livestock farmers using thermal imaging drones to find livestock out on the range. Just yesterday I read about the popularity of agricultural drones in Japan where farm have been using them for 20 years. They are even spot spraying weeds in rice fields with drones.

    • May 2, 2013 11:43 AM

      Agree there’s some great possibilities for using them! I just don’t know that looking for what “we don’t like” is one. Is that pile manure or compost…a violation or not? Harassment potential abounds, which is different from technology we decide to use for ourselves IMO. If we want to send a drone out to check the cattle and train the cattle to it, great. I don’t think that gives *me* the right to fly over your fields and be nosy! 😉

  2. An Irish Male In America permalink
    May 2, 2013 11:51 AM

    I’m against the AG Gag law for a number of reasons (I tackled it a number of times on my blog), and I support farmers/growers having publicly viewable webcams on their property. BUT… I don’t think it should be a requirement, I think it should be that farmers/growers choice! It’s up to them how much they want to share with the public.

    I think people should be allowed to have or operate their own drones (I love photography and being able to do my own aerial photography would be fun!) BUT there should be privacy laws drafted to cover the use of drones. Obviously anyone using them as a “peeping tom” device should be fined/jailed. Also anyone flying them over private property should be held accountable for any damages incurred (whether it be spooking livestock, or if the drone crashed and started a fire etc). We shouldn’t outright ban them, there are people who want to use them to have fun, but we should regulate their use and make people who use them, accountable for their actions. If you’re going to fly them onto private property, then yes, you should need to seek the owners permission. However, if you do happen to capture illegal activity, then you should be offered some sort of protection. YET, if you don’t capture illegal activity, you should be prosecuted for invasion of privacy (after all, if you happened to catch a murder on camera, is it right the evidence be discounted and you get fined for filming it?).

    Point being, get some regulation in there and protect drone owners, the public and business owners from unregulated use.

    • May 2, 2013 12:34 PM

      I would agree completely in the encouragement of farmers to use video to show what happens on the farm. As we move forward we’d like to have capability of streaming growing stock. I think that varies widely from farmers wanting protection from those who come onto their property, misrepresent who they are and capture video then don’t turn it in but use it for video fundraising…for me that’s the difference! I think if someone is regularly taking crowbars to cows it needs to be stopped *now* – not a month or six weeks from now. I think if someone is being abusive to the animals it doesn’t take weeks to know it’s abusive, nor does it need edited down to a minute and explanation given that all farms are like this. That’s no more true than saying all who take bath pictures of their kids are pedophiles – just not true!

      I agree with your points on the use of them over private property. I’m wondering how to best regulate it. Here’s the thing – someone uses a drone, flies over a residential area, sees someone sunbathing nude in the backyard – oops. Until it’s uploaded. Or if someone puts $50,000 in livestock through a fence…they’re probably not going to come forth to cover damages, especially if it was intentional. I agree with your points…but at the same time see opportunity for massive abuse of privacy. Farmers *are* private property, even out in their fields and pastures. And I think the longer we don’t talk about it, or deny there’s the probability of abuse, the worse it will get.
      I appreciate your comments! It’s good to get discussion going that addresses the issue and what it may spread to.

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