Privacy Groups Petition FAA On Domestic Use of UAS

More than 100 privacy groups, experts and individuals have petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration to address the impact of unmanned aircraft in the US as the agency moves to implement new rules for domestic use.

The impending domestic use of UAS that can provide unprecedented platforms for surveillance for law enforcement, prompted the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), and more than 100 organizations, experts, and members of the public to petition the FAA, urging the agency to address the privacy threats associated with the increased use of unmanned aircraft in the US.

“The privacy threat posed by the deployment of drone aircraft in the United States is great,” said the petition. “The public should be given the opportunity to comment on this development.”

The petition points to the Bureau Of Customs And Border Protection’s  (“CBP”) operation of nine unmanned aircrafct, procured specifically to monitor the United States borders.

In 2011, said the petition, CBP allowed a local law enforcement unit in North Dakota the use of an unmanned aircraft within the unit’s normal operations. That operation was the first occasion where UAS use resulted in an arrest of a U.S. citizen. The group said the surveillance capabilities and expanding federal and local law enforcement acquisition of UAS – sometimes sanctioned by DHS – will pose an increasing threat to individual privacy.

It also said that UAS will be used in increasingly diverse applications under the statute, in ways that pose unique dangers.  It cited “paparazzi drones” that are being developed by companies to follow and photograph celebrities.  It said criminals might also use the technology to stalk and harass others.

Source: Government Security News

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