A month ago, I noted the apparently ironic declaration of the “Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus”:
The Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus was designed to educate Members of Congress and their staff on matter of individual privacy, to provide a forum for the discussion of these issues, and to serve as a legislative advocate for personal privacy matters.
That’s got to be an ironic statement, because a sincere “Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus” would actually, you know, serve as a legislative advocate for personal privacy matters.
But that’s not what’s happening, not if you go by observable support of actual bills that would advocate for personal privacy in our surveillance-mad society. There are four bills before the House of Representatives that would offer Americans privacy protections against the unmanned drone aircraft being flown over our skies, over our heads, photographing our private activities without notice or warrant. They are:
- H.R. 972: “Prohibits a person or entity acting under the authority of the United States from using a drone to gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or regulatory violations except to the extent authorized in a warrant issued under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.”
- H.R. 1083: “Prohibits the Secretary of Transportation (DOT) from authorizing any person to operate an unmanned aircraft system (drone) in the national airspace system as a weapon or to deliver a weapon against a person or property.”
- H.R. 1242: “To prohibit the use of drones to kill citizens of the United States within the United States.”
- H.R. 1262: “The bill will 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.”
These bills have been around for nearly two months, and still there is only one member out of 24 members of the “Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus” who has actually signed his name up in support of any of these bills. Ed Markey of Massachusetts has written and sponsored his own bill, H.R. 1262.
Not one other member of the “Privacy Caucus” has cosponsored any of these privacy reform bills.
Why not? I have no idea. Their reasons remain private.