US skies to be full of drones
The American skies may soon be full of drones after it was disclosed that domestic law enforcement agencies – from the FBI to local police – have been granted permission to deploy the unmanned aircraft.
By Raf Sanchez
22 Apr 2012
Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws show that show that more than 50 non-military organisations have asked to fly drone aircraft, many of which can carry cameras and surveillance equipment for spying within the US.
The figures from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group pledged to defending Americans from digital snooping by government, showed that major agencies like the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice had been cleared to launch drones.
But more alarmingly, the documents reveal that individual city police forces are also drawing up plans to use the reconnaissance aircraft more regularly associated with top secret missions against terror suspects in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.
Police chiefs in Miami, Seattle and even North Little Rock – a city in Arkansas of less than 70,000 people – were all cleared by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to launch drones within their jurisdictions.
A spokesman for the North Little Rock Police Department told the Wall Street Journal that it was only using its unmanned helicopter for training over unpopulated areas but hoped to eventually fly it above crime-ridden neighbourhoods and use it to gather intelligence for major drug cases.