FBI Director Admits Domestic Use Of Surveillance Drones With Little Oversight

droneA technician supporting U.S. Navy SEAL Team 18 works on a UAV, an unmanned aerial vehicle, before a demonstration of combat skills at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Florida November 11, 2011. The demonstration for the public is part of a Veteran’s Day celebration and the annual reunion at the Museum. The drone is equipped with cameras for surveillance.

On Wednesday FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress that the agency uses drones for domestic surveillance purposes despite lacking rules to govern their use, Russia Today reports.

While not a surprise — the FBI has had authorization since at least in April 2012 — the lack of oversight raises important questions about how drones will be used domestically.

From RT:

[Mueller] 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.”

In September a congressional research report found that domestic drones may be able to bypass constitutional privacy safeguards because of their high level of sophistication.

In March New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he considers the domestic use of military-style drones “scary” but inevitable.

“Everybody wants their privacy, but I don’t know how you’re going to maintain it,” Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show. “It’s just we’re going into a different world, uncharted, and, like it or not, what people can do, what governments can do, is different … you can’t keep the tides from coming in.”

Last year the Federal Aviation Authority said it expects 30,000 of the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to fill U.S. skies by the end of the decade.

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