The government now has the green light to begin a limited version of a satellite surveillance program that provides imagery of the U.S. to federal, state and local authorities.
Known as the National Applications Office, the initiative is aimed at helping officials with emergency response and domestic security, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
However, some have raised concerns about the civil liberties and privacy issues at stake.
For example, an unpublished Government Accountability Office report suggested that the Department of Homeland Security has not provided adequate assurance that it will be able to oversee procedures and prevent information from being misused.
In response to these concerns, Congress placed some temporary funding restrictions on the program, but an initial phase has already begun.
California representative Jane Harman told the publication that she will fight the expansion of the scheme, having taken on board lessons learned from previous government surveillance initiatives.
"I don’t want to go there again until the legal framework for the entire program is entirely spelled out," she said.
In other civil liberties news, lawmakers recently proposed legislation to limit how border officials monitor and copy electronic and paper documents carried by travelers.