Congress OKs 30,000
flying drones spying on Americans across U.S. cities
February 9 2012
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) It's the most benign thing in the
world. In fact, it's a concept whose time has come
and it will only help protect us and keep us safe.
Naturally, there's nothing to worry about because
there won't be any abuse of the technology.
After all, spy drones are already being used around
the U.S.; what's the problem with adding tens of
In case you didn't know it - and you probably didn't
- Congress, with little fanfare,
passed an FAA reauthorization bill last week
President Obama is expected to sign into law that
will make it much easier for the government to put
scores of unmanned spy drones into American skies.
Not only that the legislation authorizes the Federal
Aviation Administration to develop regulations for
the testing and licensing of commercial drones by
2015. If the law takes full effect, it is believed
as many as 30,000 drones could be hovering
over the U.S. by 2020.
The drones, which are widely used in Afghanistan to
spot and target suspected insurgents and Taliban
operatives in that country as well as neighboring
Pakistan, have been used by American government
agencies like U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a
division of the Department of Homeland Security, for
a few years, in an observation/surveillance
capacity. DoH has also used drones in disaster
relief operations, and advocates say they can be
successfully employed to fight fires and locate
Say Good-bye to Privacy
Privacy advocates, however, are sounding the alarm
good and loud.
"There are serious policy questions on the horizon
about privacy and surveillance, by both government
agencies and commercial entities," Steven Aftergood,
head of the Project on Government Secrecy at the
Federation of American Scientists, told the
Jennifer Lynch, an attorney with the
Electronic Frontier Foundation,
a watchdog group, added that her organization is
particularly "concerned about the implications for
surveillance by government agencies."
Her agency is suing the FAA to determine just how
many certificates the agency has already issued to
police, government agencies and a smattering of
private research institutions to allow them to fly
drones in U.S. airspace. The agency says it handed
out 313 certificates in 2011; by year's end, 295
were still active "but the FAA refuses to disclose
which agencies have the certificates and what their
purposes are," said the Times.
"We need a list so we can ask [each agency], 'What
are your policies on drone use? How do you protect
privacy? How do you ensure compliance with the
Fourth Amendment?'" Lynch said.
"Currently, the only barrier to the routine use of
drones for persistent surveillance are the
procedural requirements imposed by the FAA for the
issuance of certificates," Amie Stepanovich,
national security counsel for the Electronic Privacy
Information Center, told the paper.
The use of drones to keep an eye on American
citizens is just the next step in what has become
the move towards a so-called
"surveillance society" that is growing rampant in
Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's Technology
and Liberty Program, says while the widening use of
video cameras in American society may have helped
nab some criminals, they often provide a false sense
"It's the illusion of security ... public
authorities like to give the impression they are
doing something about crime and terrorism," he told
Furthermore, are we comfortable with being
constantly under surveillance?
"Do we want a society where an innocent individual
can't walk down the street without being considered
a potential criminal?" asks the ACLU, on its Web
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