Government documents show drones to be used for identifying gun owners
Paul Joseph Watson
June 25, 2013
A new survey shows that two thirds of Americans support the use of unmanned spy drones for “homeland security missions,” despite the fact that such missions will include identifying gun owners and tracking the location of individuals via their cellphones, according to government documents.
The poll, conducted by the Institute for Homeland Security Solutions (IHSS), a research consortium led by RTI International, shows that 67% of Americans support the use of unmanned spy drones for “homeland security missions,” and that 63% support their use in “fighting crime”.
The survey also canvassed law enforcement officers, 72% of whom supported the use of unmanned drones for surveillance purposes and 66% supported their use for “emergency response”.
Although some will question the poll’s outcome given RTI International’s close ties with US government agencies, its results are broadly in line with previous surveys which show that around two thirds of Americans are happy with domestic drone use under the justification of fighting crime.
“Within 10 years, sales of UAS are expected to grow to 160,000 units in the United States as the technology develops for public safety use and commercial purposes,” states the RTI report.
Indeed, over the last 12 months, the Department of Homeland Security has been advancing plans for “public safety drones” which are currently undergoing rigorous testing as part of the Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety” (RAPS) project.
Initial testing of robotic spy drones for “public safety” applications was conducted by the DHS’ Science and Technology directorate at Fort Sill, Oklahoma last year.
The DHS has also been giving grants worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to police departments across the country enabling them to purchase unmanned surveillance drones such as the Shadowhawk drone, a 50lb mini helicopter that can be fitted with an XREP taser with the ability to fire four barbed electrodes that can be shot to a distance of 100 feet.
As we reported in April, the DHS is testing a number of different drones at a scientific research facility in Oklahoma that have sensors capable of detecting whether a person is armed. A promotional video for the Shadowhawk drone depicts the UAV being used to spy on a private gun sale.
CNet’s Declan McCullagh also obtained government documents which show how the DHS is customizing Predator drones originally designated for overseas military operations “to carry out at-home surveillance tasks that have civil libertarians worried: identifying civilians carrying guns and tracking their cell phones.”
Experts predict that there will be 30,000 surveillance drones in American skies by 2020 following a bill passed last year by Congress that permits the use of unmanned aerial spy vehicles on domestic soil.
Last week, FBI director Robert Mueller told Congress that the agency was already using drones for surveillance on U.S. soil on a limited scale.
Recently released FAA documents show that the FBI has received clearance to conduct surveillance drone operations inside the U.S. on at least four occasions since 2010.