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First Two Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Support Anti-Drone Legislation

In Promise #2 of its “Progressive Promise” to America, the Congressional Progressive Caucus promises to stand up for Americans’ privacy and civil liberties:

2. Protecting and Preserving Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

» To sunset expiring provisions of the Patriot Act and bring remaining provisions into line with the U. S. Constitution.

» To protect the personal privacy of all Americans from unbridled police powers and unchecked government intrusion.

» To extend the Voting Rights Act and reform our electoral processes.

» To fight corporate consolidation of the media and ensure opportunity for all voices to be heard.

» To ensure enforcement of all legal rights in the workplace.

» To eliminate all forms of discrimination based upon color, race, religion, gender, creed, disability, or sexual orientation.”

The Congressional Progressive Caucus has 77 members.

Why was it not until yesterday that a single member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus cosponsored H.R. 637, a bill to provide civil liberties and privacy protections for Americans against the unmanned aerial vehicles — also known as drones — that have just been unleashed for domestic use in the United States? Thank you goes to Rep. Jared Polis for cosponsoring the bill yesterday — but why haven’t Rep. Polis’ 76 colleagues on the CPC joined him?

It is heartening to see one other progressive voice emerge on the drones being launched into our skies. Rep. Ed Markey, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts and a longtime member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has introduced the bill H.R. 1262 before the House. The text of this bill isn’t available for Americans to read yet, but a news release by Markey’s office colorfully indicates that the purpose of the bill is “to Prevent Flying Robots from Becoming Spying Robots,” that his bill would “require privacy protection provisions relating to data collection and minimization, disclosure, warrant requirements for law enforcement, and enforcement measures in the licensing and operation of drones.”

Markey explained his move yesterday:

“As drones increasingly fill our skies, Americans must be afforded a level of privacy and protection from these aerial technologies. My drone privacy bill provides transparency on the domestic use of drone aircraft and adds privacy protections that ensure this technology cannot be used to endlessly watch Americans. I look forward to working with my Congressional colleagues on this bi-partisan issue to ensure that strong personal privacy protections and public transparency measures are put in place now, before this technology is literally hovering over our heads.”

Representatives Polis and Markey have made good moves. Will their colleagues in the Congressional Progressive Caucus move with them?

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