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Drones to Spy on Americans?

[ Has the war in Iraq/Afghanistan been used to test these devices for “homeland security”? ]

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DORAL, Fla. (WSVN) — A new piece of technology may soon be coming to South Florida, but is already raising concerns from residents.

The Miami-Dade Police Department recently finalized a deal to buy a drone, which is an unmanned plane equipped with cameras. Drones have been used for years in Iraq and Afghanistan in the war against terror.

Many residents are concerned that the new technology will violate their privacy.

MDPD purchased a drone named T-hawk from defense firm Honeywell to assist with the department’s Special Response Team’s operations. The 20-pound drone can fly for 40 minutes, reach heights of 10,500 feet and cruise in the air at 46 miles an hour. “It gives us a good opportunity to have an eye up there. Not a surveilling eye, not a spying eye. Let’s make the distinction. A surveilling eye to help us to do the things we need to do, honestly, to keep people safe,” said Miami-Dade Police Director James Loftus.

The ACLU is one of the organizations that is concerned about the drone that may soon be coming to Miami-Dade County. Howard Simon, the executive director of the ACLU of Florida approves of the drones but also advocates strict regulation of the drones. “Technology: there’s no reason not to embrace technology if it makes the streets safer, if it helps the police. The concern is, though, that every new technology also has within it the capacity to threaten people’s privacy,” he said.

Terrorism expert Douglas Haas, however, believes that the drones will help in many ways, including fighting crime. “This has unlimited capabilities,” said Haas. “Not only is it good tactically for a SWAT call out or any tactical situation, there’s numerous search and rescue applications for it after a hurricane. They could send one of these up fast and assess damage.”

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