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Signs of the modern age
Using Google Maps to take a look at the corner where the confrontation seems to be happening in Watertown.

I find myself wondering how long it'll be before we get live drone-based footage of things like this?

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I know many citizens think that if the police can surveil us, we should surveil them. But do you mean drones run by the news organizations?

Yaas. I think it was in the Economist that I recently read about the rise of civilian and state drone usage within the US. At this point, I gather that the laws are still pretty fluid...

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Yeah, saw that retweeted a few minutes ago...

"The other side"--strange term for one fugitive teenager who has managed to elude the entire might of the law. It will still come down to old-fashioned, low-tech, dangerous house-by-house police work.

From the 12:36 press conference -- "we're going house to house, street to street".

Live, drone-based coverage would give the bad guys real-time tactical information. You do *not* want live, drone-based coverage.

Granted. That's a significantly different thing from saying that it won't happen, though. Lacking actual regulation preventing it (which, as mentioned upthread, is constitutionally iffy), I would expect it not to happen until someone does it and gets ratings out of it -- at which point it'll be impossible to put the genie back in the bottle...

Constitutionally iffy? You don't have a constitutional right to take pictures! Loads and loads of restricted areas forbid photography. Heck, simple *copyright law* can prohibit photography! And there's ample precedent of law against endangering law enforcement officers operating in lawful duty.

Go ahead, take pictures that get a cop killed, and watch how fast you find that it isn't constitutionally protected.

You do have a constitutional right to take many pictures. The press has a stronger-than-you constitutional right to take even more pictures. (Law enforcement has more still.)

The primary limit to taking pictures is "Are you on public property?" I've never heard an argument that says anything other than "You are allowed to take any pictures you want on public property" (In the US), and I'm not aware of any legislation (yet) that says exactly how that applies to non-restricted airspace.

I think the biggest restriction in this case is "can you legally fly a drone there?" Right now the answer is 'no' a lot of the times -- as that changes or becomes more clear (and it will), unless there is explicit legislation or case law to the contrary, I expect we *will* see a lot of different things like this.

I mean, using a drone in this case is not fundamentally different than using a news helicopter, right? Are you indicating you think helicopter shots of Watertown right now are illegal? Or just a bad idea?

Perhaps, but there appears to be a good deal of tension here in the case law. As cited upthread, it *is* essentially settled law that you can record police in the course of their routine public duties. The question is exactly when and how that gets limited by public safety. I'm sure limits will be established on this score, but so far, I haven't heard any terribly clear guidelines. (Especially recently, and the technology is changing rapidly enough for that to matter...)

Note: I don't actually think recording them is a problem. The *live* rebroadcast, however, would present a rather clear tactical danger to the officers in the field.

As I said - go ahead, and take some pictures that get police officers killed. Then see what you think about it.

Given that good guys outnumber bad guys by a considerable margin, I'm not convinced that live drone-based coverage is a net loss.

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Yeah -- the surprisingly-decent current SyFy series Continuum has been playing a bit with this sort of thing. Our heroine from the future has all sorts of gadgets, but it's clear that her main advantage isn't her fancy gun, it's the amount of computer power built into her suit. (Which is clearly *specifically* designed to take myriad data sources and synthesize them into useful information...)

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