Police agencies in the United States to begin using drones in 90 days
Coming soon to the skies above you — drones, drones and more drones.
And all giving police and who knows who else the chance to peek into your backyard.
Legislation just signed by President Obama directs the Federal Aviation Administration to open the skies to remotely controlled drones within the next three years. It will begin in 90 days with police and first responders having authority to fly smaller drones of less than 4.4 pounds at altitudes under 400 feet. Gradually, all drones are to be allowed by Sept. 30, 2015.
The use of drones had been restricted out of civilian aviation safety concerns created by a sky full of drones flown by untrained operators in the same space as aircraft. But that was overridden by successful lobbying of drone makers and customers who will reap the financial benefits for commercial purposes. “The market for drones is valued at $5.9 billion and is expected to double in the next decade,” the New York Times reported.
They can be used by real estate agents to snap aerial photos. But then, given costs and ease of use, what will stop a member of the paparazzi or any other prying photographer from using them to get more personal snapshots? The Times report said a $300 drone can be flown from an iPhone.
The planned expansion extends the militarization of law enforcement that has been going with the adaptation of military technology and strategies to civilian law enforcement. Police see several advantages to drones over other surveillance.