September 17, 2012
There is a growing chorus of concern regarding the privacy and security implications of integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) that federal agencies should address or risk delaying the technology’s integration into the national airspace over the next five years, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report (.pdf) released Friday.
More popularly known as drones, some critics argue UAVs threaten American civil liberties and privacy rights. “Concerns include the potential for increased amounts of government surveillance using technologies placed on UAS, the collection and use of such data, and potential violations of constitutional Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure,” the GAO reported.
Citing a June poll conducted by Monmouth University, the GAO highlighted the American public’s comfort level with drones. The poll found that 42 percent of those surveyed were very concerned about their own privacy if U.S. law enforcement began to use drones in their operations. Only 15 percent said they had no concerns. The poll also discovered that support for drones hinges on what they’re used for. Eighty percent were in favor of using drones for search and rescue operations while 67 percent opposed police using drones to issue speeding tickets.