Critics warn military industrial complex pushing US “willy-nilly toward an era of aerial surveillance”
February 8, 2012
A bill passed in by Congress this week paves the way for the use of surveillance drones in US skies. The FAA predicts that by 2020 there could be up to 30,000 drones in operation.
Once signed by president Obama, the FAA Reauthorization Act allows for the FAA to permit the use of drones and develop regulations for testing and licensing by 2015.
The bill will exponentially speed up and streamline the process by which the FAA authorizes the use of drones by federal, state and local police and other government agencies. Currently, the FAA issues a certificate on a case by case basis.
The legislation represents the result of a huge push by the military industrial complex to open up US skies to what will become a multi-million dollar business.
The American Civil Liberties Union warned Monday that the legislation could severely undermine Americans’ privacy.
“Unfortunately, nothing in the bill would address the very serious privacy issues raised by drone aircraft,” Jay Stanley of the ACLU said. “This bill would push the nation willy-nilly toward an era of aerial surveillance without any steps to protect the traditional privacy that Americans have always enjoyed and expected.”
“We don’t want to wonder, every time we step out our front door, whether some eye in the sky is watching our every move.” the ACLU statement reads.
“The bottom line is: domestic drones are potentially extremely powerful surveillance tools, and that power — like all government power — needs to be subject to checks and balances,” Stanley concluded. “We hope that Congress will carefully consider the privacy implications that this technology can lead to.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) re-iterated those privacy concerns, noting that the bill has “implications for surveillance by government agencies.”
The EFF is suing the FAA to obtain records of which agencies were granted certificates to operate drones in the past year, following a refusal by the federal agency to disclose which agencies have the certificates and for what purpose.
Other privacy advocates also share concern over the legislation.
“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,” said Amie Stepanovich, national security counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.net, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham in England.