Justice Department Inspector General Releases Report on Domestic Drones

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 26, 2013

CONTACT: media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released an interim report today on the department’s use of surveillance drones. The report said that the FBI has been using drones with the same privacy rules it uses for manned aircraft.

The OIG recommended that the department consider developing drone-specific policies that take privacy into account, because, “Unlike manned aircraft, UAS [unmanned aircraft systems] can be used in close proximity to a home and, with longer-lasting power systems, may be capable of flying for several hours or even days at a time, raising unique concerns about privacy and the collection of evidence.” The report said the Justice Department agreed to explore creating rules for using drones. The report also said that the FBI’s general counsel had initiated a privacy review of drone use.

Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project had this reaction:

“No agency, including the FBI, should deploy domestic surveillance drones without first having strong privacy guidelines in place. We’re encouraged by the inspector general’s recognition that drones have created a need for privacy policies covering aerial surveillance. We urge the Justice Department to make good on its plans to develop privacy rules that protect Americans from another mass surveillance technology. Congress, however, should pass legislation introduced by Reps. Ted Poe and Zoe Lofgren that requires law enforcement to get judicial approval before deploying drones, and explicitly forbids the arming of these machines.”

The DOJ OIG report is at:
justice.gov/oig/reports/2013/a1337.pdf

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