In an event that now seems like it was ages ago, Sen. Rand Paul led a 13-hour filibuster against the use of drone strikes against suspected terrorists on American soil. The American population supported Senator Paul’s position overwhelmingly in polls conducted after the filibuster took place. It was a victory for the national security of American citizens.

More recently, America’s first arrest with the assistance of drone on domestic soil recently took place when a farmer was arrested for not returning cows that had wandered onto his property.

It seems like an innocent enough circumstance of domestic drone usage, though we have to wonder what this will mean for surveillance in the world of tomorrow. Do we really want domestic drones to be scouring our skies, constantly on the lookout for wrongdoing?

The thought is chilling, and it gains a significant part of its spooky nature from the government that would be controlling these domestic drones. Our government’s eyes and ears are only growing stronger and more powerful each day. We are already aware that our emails, texts, phone calls, and even social media usage has been collected by government agencies in their so-called efforts to combat terrorism. Are drones the next step to keeping tabs on Americans?

Experts predict that as many as 30,000 unmanned drones will be flying through American airspace in the next few years. They will certainly play an integral part of our developing economy and infrastructure, but we have to keep a wary eye on their use. Drones can all too easily be abused and exploited to circumvent the privacy of millions of Americans. There is no doubt that domestic drones are a technological marvel that will assuredly help people in need but safeguards need to be put in place that prevent the same kind of data collection abuse that the NSA has just so recently been caught perpetrating.

It is extremely important to upkeep and maintain our security capabilities to ensure the safety of our communities. However, that doesn’t mean we have to become a police state.

John Plucenik | Penn State | @JPlucenik