New Drone City

Drones Are Basically a Rorschach Test: Creepy or Cool?

Think fast!
An EPA drone. Trash burners, be worried.

An EPA drone. Trash burners, be worried.

Yesterday the Senate held a hearing on drones, to discuss whether privacy laws can handle a sudden proliferation of cheap, lightweight aircraft perfectly designed for unlawful surveillance. Can the cops now hover over your carefully hidden pot crop? Can the sex offender down the street now peek into your second-story window? How are corporations going to use this to their advantage?

The only comforting sight was the image of charming grandparents Patrick Leahy and Diane Feinstein investigating one of these newfangled devices.

As the New York Times reports, the meeting was also an occasion to air two very, very different viewpoints on the new gadgets: Are they spiffy D.I.Y. gizmos, or are they an Orwellian threat to privacy?

Showing the public uneasiness over the new technology, one young protester at the hearing was led away by Capitol police after she stood up and declared, “Drones are responsible for the death of people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen!” Another protester held a sign that said, “1984.”

As Ms. Goitein observed, “The country can be divided into people who think this is horrifying and people who think this is neat.”

Actually, could we get a diagram mapping how Hacker News commenters break out into those two populations? Much appreciated.

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com