Bloomberg calls domestic drones ‘scary’—but inevitable

Holly Bailey

NEW YORK—Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the idea of law enforcement officials using drones and other controversial methods like face recognition technology to monitor Americans is “scary,” but he suggested the practice is inevitable.

In a radio interview on Friday, Bloomberg acknowledged there are privacy concerns when asked about the use of drones by the New York Police Department or other entities. He suggested, however, that there’s little people can do to stop the “tides from coming in.”

The mayor said, “We're going into a different world, unchartered. And, like it or not, what people can do or governments can do is different, and you can to some extent control, but you can't keep the tides from coming in. We're going to have more visibility and less privacy. I don't see how you stop that. And it's not a question of whether I think it's good or bad. I just don't see how you could stop that because we're going to have them.”

While he acknowledged the practice is “scary,” Bloomberg said that “intellectually” he sees little difference between drones and security cameras mounted around cities. And he appeared to dismiss legislation that would limit how the drones are used to protect people’s privacy.

"It's a different world. And, you know, everybody wants their privacy, but I don't know how you're going to maintain it," he said. "I mean, this is something that society really has to think about, and not by writing a quick piece of legislation. These are long-term, serious problems. And whether we have the discipline to approach problems that way, I don't know. You know, I mean, everybody demagogues on all these things, and there's some serious issues before you write legislation.”