Congressional candidates weigh in on technology, use of drones

Three candidates will vie for the 10th congressional district seat up for election in November.

It will be all but formality in the May primary, with only one candidate each seeking the Democratic and Republican nominations.

Republican and incumbent Tom Marino graduated from Lycoming College in 1985 with a degree in political science and from the Dickinson School of Law at Penn State University in 1987. He lives in Cogan Station with his wife and two children and is seeking a third term.

Democrat Scott Brion of Liberty graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in 1992 and founded his own real estate company, Tioga Resources, in 2008. He lives near Liberty with his wife and son.

Nick Troiano of Milford is running as an Independent. As such, he will not appear on the ballot for the May 20 primary election. He is collecting the 3,500 signatures required to appear on the general election ballot in November. Troiano graduated from Georgetown University in 2011 with a degree in American Government, where he also got his master’s in the same field.

The district includes most of Lycoming County, along with Bradford, Montour, Northumberland, Pike, Snyder, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Wayne and Wyoming counties, Ward Township, and parts of Lackawanna and Luzerne counties.

Q: New technologies, such as drones, present issues and opportunities for law enforcement, the news media and others. What is your position on the use of drones by government agencies? By the news media?

MARINO: “I don’t support the media using technologies like drones because I feel as though it could get too far out of hand and there would be very little regulation. I agree with the government using them on an extremely limited basis, for things like border security or drug trafficking control, even for things like assisting in searches for lost children or hikers. But I think that they’re too invasive of an entity to be used by law enforcement agencies – it would have to be very, very regulated.”

BRION: “I don’t have much of a position as far as the media goes, unless it could be used in place of a news helicopter or something similar, but as far as the government is concerned, there are a lot of issues to work out with the use of drones. I see a safety issue, because you want to make sure that they don’t present a public safety concern for everyday citizens, but generally, I support their use. They’re also a relatively new technology and they’re providing a sort of litmus test to make sure that civil liberties aren’t compromised.”

TROIANO: “I think with the use of modern technology for any purpose, there are trade-offs, in this case keeping the privacy and safety of citizens weighed against security concerns and greater efficiency in government. One of the roles of government is to put proper rules and regulations in place that protect the public’s interests, and as far as the use of drones and such in the media, I have similar thoughts about ensuring the privacy of the public.”

Q: Do you support the use of technologies by government to resist the tide of terrorism, or do you believe the government has gone too far? What steps do you advocate to look out for the concerns of ordinary citizens?

MARINO: “I believe that we have to use technology to fight terrorism, because there are very smart people who are also using it to try and destroy us, but it should be used sparingly. It absolutely should not be used for personal or political gain, and I advocate for prosecuting the people who use it in that way. I believe that any agencies who use it should report to the House and Senate on a regular basis, and I’m very supportive of an independent entity of citizens to provide oversight and a taxpayer perspective.”

BRION: “Civil liberties are very, very important, but I say yes to using all of the tools possible to protect the citizens of this country, which is the primary goal of government that I think we can all agree on. However, along with the use of those tools, you need to have the right safeguards to make sure that those civil liberties are protected. I think that steps include making the use of those technologies understood and what information will be gathered and what it will be used for. I think people need to feel comfortable about it, and I don’t see a security risk in having them feel comfortable.”

TROIANO: “I do think the government has gone too far in its domestic surveillance programs. The standard of using technology shouldn’t be just because it’s possible, it should be because it’s necessary and constitutional, and I think it hasn’t met those standards so far. An important step that could be taken is placing civilian oversight on domestic programs, because the public’s interests should be taken into consideration, not just within a military context. In that sense, we should also make sure that there is a robust advocate on behalf of the public, because they ought to know what steps the government is taking to protect them against terrorism.”