Military drones used to track terrorists or insurgents in Afghanistan have also been flying across the U.S. homeland. Newly released documents show U.S. drone flights by the Air Force, Marine Corps and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for the first time.
The Air Force has tested drones in U.S. skies ranging from hand-launched Ravens to the larger Reaper drones responsible for targeting and killing people overseas — all recorded through the Federal Aviation Administration licenses required to fly in national airspace. That information became public through a Freedom of Information Act request from the nonprofit digital rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
“The FAA recently announced it wants to slow down drone integration into U.S. skies due to privacy concerns,” the EFF said. “We are hopeful this indicates the agency is finally changing its views.”
But the advocacy organization noted that the FAA documents don’t show any oversight of how drone flights could affect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans.
The advocates run a U.S. drone census that aims to track drone flights made in the homeland by the U.S. military, law enforcement agencies, local police departments and universities. Part of that effort has involved requesting the FAA to release documents showing what agencies and organizations applied for licenses to fly drones in U.S. national airspace.
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