Monday, May 26, 2014

How to make Woodstock a "No Drone Zone"

The Town Board of Woodstock, NY, has passed a resolution stating the Town Board's desire that Woodstock be a "No Drone Zone". In a 4-0 vote this week, the board decided to urge Congress, the state Legislature and members of the Ulster County Legislature to keep the unmanned aircraft out of municipal skies. The resolution stresses the threats that surveillance drones pose to privacy and constitutional rights, and notes that "the use of drones by the United States military provides a dangerous precedent for their domestic use".

This is an admirable precedent that should spread to other towns. But it's worse than an empty gesture if Woodstock doesn't end its role as a source of crucial components for these same drones. We know that Woodstock's largest employer is the sole supplier of a crucial component of the military's Predator drone, and makes components for the Global Hawk spy drone. (And we can be sure that Woodstock's Ametek Rotron has other drone contracts, as only a few of the company's contracts come to public notice.)

Communities like Woodstock have an opportunity to play a positive role in making our skies safe from the scourge of drones, by cutting off the source -- by ending their role in the manufacture of drones and investigating ways to convert their local economies to peaceful, productive purposes. That way Woodstock can keep to the spirit, as well as the letter, of its resolution.