droneFirst we have the news that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been collecting data from American’s phone calls and gathering data on the internet.  Now we learn that the FBI owns and has used drones for domestic surveillance.

Robert Mueller, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, confirmed to lawmakers that the FBI owns several unmanned aerial vehicles, but has not adopted any strict policies or guidelines yet to govern the use of the controversial aircraft.

“Does the FBI use drones for surveillance on US soil?” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) asked Mr Mueller during an oversight hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Yes,” Mueller responded bluntly, adding that the FBI’s operation of drones is “very seldom.” (emphasis mine)

Mueller was later asked if he’d be open to transparency of the program.  He replied, “There is a price to be paid for that transparency.  I certainly think it would be educating our adversaries as to what our capabilities are.”

I can see the contracting with an agency who does have the drones legitimately, like the Border Patrol for instance, when there is the need to do a search on federal land with lots of square mileage of wilderness.  Other than that I’m not comfortable with the idea of them owning and using them for domestic surveillance; especially since no “strict policies or guidelines”  have been established.

But hey, what’s a little surveillance among friends, right?

Photo credit: Jim Sher via Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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