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Common Sense And The Constitutionality Of The Texas Privacy Act

1277 words - 6 pages

Menacing spy craft... unmanned aerial vehicles... and missile laden predators. These are the images that come to mind when the word "drone" is spoken. Taken to new heights during the Global War on Terror, military drones have struck fear into the hearts of America's enemies. Now the U.S. government is starting to look inward toward its next target: the American people. Already starting along the US/Mexico border, big brother is indiscriminately watching whole neighborhoods via high tech zoom and heat imaging technology. There is even a debate in congress as to whether it is lawful for an American citizen to be killed by a missile firing drone. These actions and debates have caused legitimate concerns for the American people in regards to governmental intrusions. Now that debate has moved on to include civilian radio controlled aircraft enthusiasts who use small video recorders as a part of their hobby. Recently, there has been new legislation enacted called the Texas Privacy Act; commonly referred to as the "drone bill." Debated under the premise of privacy, the drone bill is aimed primarily at the civilian hobbyist. Moreover, this legislation has no effect on the numerous types of governmental drones that "We the People" actually fear. Simply stated, the Texas Privacy Act is unjust, virtually unenforceable, and limits First Amendment rights.
In 2012, news broke that one of the Dallas’ oldest businesses, Columbia Meat Packing, was dumping huge amounts of pig blood into the Trinity River via a nearby stream (Lee). When tests also confirmed that hazardous chemicals were also flowing into the river from the plant, there was a general sense of outrage and disgust. However, it seems that what outraged the Texas legislature the most, was the fact that this transgression was brought to light by a citizen flying a model airplane. The purpose of that flight, accompanied by a cheap recording device, was an effort to discover the source of an obnoxious odor. Soon photographs containing images of red streaks of blood flowing into the Trinity River were on the national news. The result of this disclosure led to several prosecutions and civil actions. Although the photographs could have been taken just as legally from a piloted airplane, the fact that they were taken by a model aircraft is what got the local state representatives' attention. Apparently, Texas legislators were more concerned by the fact that a remotely operated model airplane had flown over private property, than by a disgusting industrial biohazard. Shortly after this case, the Texas Privacy Act soon followed.
Under the current drone law, there would have been a much different outcome than in the Trinity River case cited above. If that case were to have happened today, there would have been serious ramifications to the model planes' operator. He would have been given a citation for merely taking or possessing each photo and arrested if he released the photographs to a third party. There...

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