The US government is in the process of rewriting regulations so that private citizens and law enforcement agencies can fly drones willy-nilly through the skies. The proposition has a lot of people very nervous that the government will be increasingly monitoring people from above. It turns out they’re probably already doing it.
New documents obtained by CBS Los Angeles reveal that it is possible for US Air Force drones to gather information on American soil without a warrant under current regulations. The drones aren’t allowed to perform surveillance in US airspace under most circumstances. (They can only be used to fight back against foreign intelligence operations, the war on drugs and for counterterrorism.) However, if an Air Force drone is in the process of conducting other missions and happens to capture information, it’s not immediately tossed out.
What has critics alarmed is that data collected by drones accidentally, under the guidelines, can be kept by the military up to three months before being purged and can also be turned over to “another Department of defence or government agency to whose function it pertains.”
In other words, what the US Air Force accidentally captures might just end up in the hands of local law enforcement or anyone else that might find what you’re up to interesting. But what exactly constitutes accidentally? Drones could be misused under the guise of a mishap, and there’s very little we could do about it. Yikes. [CBS Los Angeles]