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L.A. Police Letting the Drones Out, Sparking Privacy Concerns

If you were worried the cops were following you, don't look over your shoulder. Look up.

The Los Angeles Police Department has approved a new program for drones. It's not the only police agency to use the flying copters, but it will be the largest.

If there is a silver-lining for potential law-breakers, at least the drones won't be weaponized.

No More Drones!

The American Civil Liberties Union urged people to protest the drone program. The ACLU said drones will be used to spy and violate individuals' privacy.

"[Y]our conversations, protests, and even private activities in your own home or backyard may soon be documented by the Los Angeles Police Department," the organization said on its website.

Its protestations were to no avail, however, as the police commission approved the pilot program for one year. According to reports, drones will be limited to "a handful of tactical situations, searches or natural disasters."

Sheriff's departments in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Alameda counties already use drones. "It's a great idea and will save lives," Sgt. Raymond Kelly told Ars Technica.

We Want Drones!

While civil liberties lawyers warn against drones, the public is clamoring for more. The Federal Aviation Association predicts there will be 10 times as many commercial drones flying in the next several years.

Meanwhile, more than 1 million hobbyists are flying drones and will triple their fleets by 2021. They are not so concerned about privacy; they are more concerned about regulation.

"What they should be concerned about is if it flies into a neighbor's window or hurts someone physically," said insurance underwriter Rick Roman. "We're going to look at how they use it, where they use it, how often they use it to price it accordingly."

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