FBI Director Confirms Drone Use On American Soil With No Regulations Or Oversight (VIDEO)


On Wednesday, FBI Director Robert Muller admitted that domestic surveillance drones were in use over United States soil outside of the umbrella provided to them by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1977. Muller said that the drones are seldom used and when they are used it is in a limited way. It has been known that drones have been utilized by the Department of Homeland Security in order to monitor the borders of Canada and Mexico. However, it was unknown if drones were been utilized for wider purposes.

Here’s the video:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oracblIoB1U&w=420&h=315]

The Department of Homeland Security has also been reported to lend out drones to local police forces. The first documented case was in North Dakota, when a farmer refused to give back livestock that wondered onto his property. The local sheriff department deployed the predator missiles without a warrant or Congressional approval. The Brossart family has been known to be heavily armed and an anti-government separatist group, whose farm land is utilized as a compound. Nevertheless, the standoff was settled without a single shot fired.

However, it is becoming increasingly true that the federal government and local authorities are using drones equipped with heat sensors, high-grade cameras and radars on American soil, all without seeking a warrant and court approval. Here rests the problem. The use of drones on American soil have until now fallen under the guidelines set forth by FISA. The transfer of this from foreign intelligence and military to civil protection agencies leave little safeguards or regulations to protect Americans privacy and civil liberties. Senator Mark Udall of Colorado said in a prepared statement on Wednesday:

“Unmanned aerial systems have the potential to more efficiently and effectively perform law enforcement duties, but the American people expect the FBI and other government agencies to first and foremost protect their constitutional rights. I am concerned the FBI is deploying drone technology while only being in the ‘initial stages’ of developing guidelines to protect Americans’ privacy rights. I look forward to learning more about this program and will do everything in my power to hold the FBI accountable and ensure its actions respect the U.S. Constitution.”

Several issues have arisen regarding the use of drones and our Fourth Amendment rights. The Supreme Court case California v Ciraolo ruled that warrantless aerial observations of a person’s yard didn’t violate the Fourth Amendment.

The FAA predicts that 30,000 drones will be flying in American airspace in less than 20 years. This is quite an increase which makes creating rules and regulations all the more important. With the help of Congress, section 332 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, calls to accelerate the integration of unmanned aircraft into national airspace.

“Federal agencies that employ unmanned aircraft systems technology in the national airspace system, and the unmanned aircraft systems industry, shall develop a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system.”

There are also several pieces of legislation that are seeking to constrain the domestic use of drones.

The Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2013 (H.R 972) would:

“Prohibits a person or entity acting under the authority of the United States from using a drone to gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or regulatory violations except to the extent authorized in a warrant issued under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.”

Preserving American Privacy Act of 2013 (H.R 637) would:

“Amends the federal criminal code to require a governmental entity operating a public unmanned aircraft system to minimize the collection or disclosure of covered information.”

Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act of 2013(H.R 1262) would:

“Amends the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 to direct the Secretary of Transportation (DOT) to study and identify any potential threats to privacy protections posed by the integration of unmanned aircraft (drone) systems into the national airspace system, including any potential violations of privacy principles.”

Given the recent revelations of the NSA’s blatant government over reach, concerns regarding drones and privacy are understood. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security shouldn’t be deploying drones over American soil until there are well established regulations regarding American citizen’s privacy. There is no doubt that drones can have their benefits, but in a time were government has shown reckless abandon in regards to privacy the people deserve to have some safeguards established before increasing domestic drone usage.