US justice authorities are facing calls for new rules on drone surveillance after it was revealed the FBI has been deploying unmanned aircraft since 2006. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24294857
A report by the Department of Justice’s watchdog said the FBI has spent $3m (£1.9m) on drone deployment.
The audit is the first time the full extent of drone use in US law enforcement has been acknowledged.
It comes amid privacy concerns and criticism of President Barack Obama over surveillance and drone activity.
Four US Justice Department units, including the FBI, spent $3.7m acquiring and testing drones between 2004 and May this year, the report by the department’s inspector general revealed.
None of the unmanned aircraft was armed or carried “releasable projectiles,” the report said.
But by relying on existing rules governing manned aircraft use, the inspector general said that the FBI risked violating privacy rights.
The report urged new protocols to restrict improper surveillance.
Drones “can be used in close proximity to a home and, with longer-lasting power systems, may be capable of flying for several hours or even days at a time, raising unique concerns about privacy and the collection of evidence,” it said.
A statement from the American Civil Liberties Union said it welcomed the report and called on authorities to take action.
“No agency, including the FBI, should deploy domestic surveillance drones without first having strong privacy guidelines in place,” Jay Staley, the group’s senior policy analyst, said.
“We urge the Justice Department to make good on its plans to develop privacy rules that protect Americans from another mass surveillance technology,” he added.