Senator Fienstein and drones, up close and personal..

January 16, 2014 |

Senator Fienstein, Democrat from California, is one of the most powerful and influential members of the US Senate.  For those interested in the legislature taking some proactive steps to provide privacy protections from the excesses of drone usage it was perhaps fortuitous that someone used such a device to spy on her during a protest. Politico reports on her giving evidence during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing in Dianne Feinstein spots drone inches from face.

It provides:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein says she once found a drone peeking into the window of her home — the kind of cautionary tale she wants lawmakers to consider as they look at allowing commercial drone use.

The California Democrat offered few details about the incident when speaking about it Wednesday afternoon, during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on drone policy where she appeared as a special witness. But she used the episode to implore lawmakers to “proceed with caution.”

Feinstein said she encountered the flying robot while a demonstration was taking place outside her house. She said she went to the window to peek out — and “there was a drone right there at the window looking out at me.”

She held her hand inches from her face to indicate how close it was.

“Obviously the pilot of the drone had some surprise because the drone wheeled around and crashed, so I felt a little good about that,” she said.

Feinstein didn’t elaborate on details about the incident, including when it occurred and whether it was in California or D.C. But the website The Wire posted copies of a video and photo implying that the “drone” may have been one of two remote-control toy helicopters that activists flew outside Feinstein’s San Francisco house in June, during a Code Pink protest against National Security Agency spying.

”So was this the drone that frightened Feinstein so much?” the article asked.

Feinstein’s office didn’t immediately respond to requests from POLITICO for more information about the drone sighting.

Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday that she has seen firsthand the surveillance capabilities of drones and called civilian privacy concerns “significant.” She singled out drones used by the government as needing close scrutiny, and recommended a search warrant requirement.

Feinstein said she is working on legislation with the Commerce Committee, and urged senators to move swiftly to create “strong, binding enforceable privacy policies that govern drone operations … before the technology is upon us.”



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