There has been a great deal of talk about the implications of government using unmanned aerial drones over domestic airspace; a flood of applications for civilian drone permits, however, is raising new concerns.
According to reports, the Federal Aviation Administration believes that as many as 30,000 unmanned drones could fill American airspace within the next two decades. The unmanned vehicles could be used for anything from monitoring pipelines and power lines to private property surveillance.
Commercialization of unmanned drones produced by military-industrial complex frontrunners Lockheed Martin, Northrop Group, Boeing and General Atomics has been pushed by Congressional caucuses, namely the House Unmanned Systems Caucus. Members of the caucuses have received a reported $8 million in drone-related campaign contributions for their work in furthering the cause.
But the idea of the unmanned vehicles flying overhead at behest of corporate and private interests has raised some major safety and privacy concerns.
“Based on current trends, technology development, law enforcement interest, political and industry pressure, and the lack of legal safeguards – it is clear that drones pose a looming threat to Americans’ privacy,” Jay Stanley, a political analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, told The San Francisco Chronicle in a recent interview.
The newspaper reported in the same story that the celebrity gossip website TMZ had even applied for a permit to fly a spy drone, though the FAA claimed it “does not have a permit” yet. TMZ later denied the accusation.