Rich Lowry has a column headlined "The Great Drone Panic: It is Luddism masquerading as civil libertarianism." Part of it simply points out that drone technology is pretty cool and has all sorts of private applications.
But Lowry says that concern about drones and how they might negatively impact our liberty is a bit much these days. Indeed, what in the world could go wrong by allowing the government to watch all with the aid of drones? You're in a "panic" if, like Charles Krauthammer and Sen. Rand Paul, you think that opening up the skies to government and law enforcement drones might not be a great idea:
As drones proliferate for commercial and other private uses, it is foolish to expect law enforcement to forgo them. Already, the Border Patrol uses drones down at the border. One day we will marvel that there was a time when a police drone wasn’t first on the scene of a shooting. Or a time when we had high-speed car chases, endangering everyone else on the road, instead of a drone following the suspect from the air.
What was it Benjamin Franklin said? He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves more awesome technology at great government expense? I'm generally in agreement that technology is more neutral than we frequently view it, but I'm also of the mindset that we've given far too much authority to the government to monitor our lives. In other words, Lowry's "calm down and embrace government drones" argument isn't convincing me.
But if people don't care about keeping the government out of the surveillance business, we might as well just sit back and wait for the first drone-supported SWAT team. I'm sure they'll do great.