Will surveillance-state opponents start to fight at the municipal level, as anti-nuclear activists did in the 1970s and 1980s?
Charles Krauthammer once predicted that the first American to shoot down a domestic drone would be a folk hero. Phillip Steele, a resident of Deer Trail, Colorado, wants to enable that hero. As the FAA loosens regulations on domestic drone use, Steele has submitted an ordinance to his town's board of trustees that would create America's most unusual hunting license: It would permit hunting drones and confer a bounty for every one brought down. Only 12-gauge shotguns could be used as weapons, so the drones would have a sporting chance.
Wouldn't the hunters be breaking federal law?
Of course. I wouldn't be surprised if the feds are already watching Steele as a result of his rabble-rousing. But he isn't dumb. "This is a very symbolic ordinance," he told a local TV station. "Basically, I do not believe in the idea of a surveillance society, and I believe we are heading that way .... It's asserting our right and drawing a line in the sand." Actually, it's more like drawing a line in the clouds. But you get the idea.
Whether or not the Deer Trail ordinance passes on August 6, when it's up for a vote, Americans should expect to see a lot more efforts at the local level to thwart the surveillance state and protect privacy. Some measures will be effectively symbolic. Others will vex or even thwart federal authorities. Privacy activists pondering these measures would do well to study up on the history of the anti-nuclear ordinances the passed in the U.S. and abroad beginning in the 1970s.
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