A recent report published by the American Civil Liberties Union says that the increasingly common use of military-style drones in domestic U.S. airspace is creating a considerable need for American privacy protections against drone surveillance.
In early 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration is expected to propose new rules to make it much easier for law enforcement agencies to gain permission to use drones in the United States. The ACLU says that Congress must act to ensure that provisions are in place that do not allow for encroachments on personal privacy.
The report details expanded domestic surveillance applications of aircraft ranging from larger drones like those currently being used to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border to large blimps that can stay aloft for days that could be used for surveillance at altitudes much higher than winged aircraft.
The ACLU report also outlines the nature of the high-tech video software that many drones are equipped with, which has the capability to monitor any and all public spaces and some private. The report notes a new Air Force project called Gorgon Stare which would use multiple video cameras on drones to capture live images of entire cities with the capabilities to zoom in on individual targets and track their every move. The Air Force is seeking to put the system on a craft that can stay airborne for up to two weeks at a time.
Despite strong interest in deploying drones for law enforcement, so far the domestic use of drones has been held back by the FAA, which has proceeded cautiously, the report says. ACLU officials contend, though, that pressure from the multibillion-dollar defense industry may soon lead to widespread domestic drone use if the FAA lessens regulations.