Privacy Group Sues For More Info On Drones | Aero-News Network
Aero-News Network
RSS icon RSS feed
podcast icon MP3 podcast
Subscribe Aero-News e-mail Newsletter Subscribe

Airborne Unlimited -- Most Recent Daily Episodes

Episode Date



Airborne-Wednesday Airborne-Thursday


Airborne On YouTube




Airborne-Flight Training-09.22.22


Mon, Jan 16, 2012

Privacy Group Sues For More Info On Drones

EFF Says DOT Has Ignored FOIA Request For Nine Months

If the increasing use of unmanned aircraft by civil law enforcement in the US had been going smoothly up till now, it looks like the debate over privacy rights is starting to heat up. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) accuses the US government of covering up records of which agencies have received permission to fly drones for surveillance purposes, and of ignoring a Freedom of Information Act request for a complete list.

From its press release, EFF explains:

"Drones are designed to carry surveillance equipment – including video cameras, infrared cameras and heat sensors, and radar – that can allow for sophisticated and almost constant surveillance. They can also carry weapons. Traditionally, drones have been used almost exclusively by military and security organizations. However, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection uses drones inside the United States to patrol the U.S. borders, and state and local law enforcement are increasingly using unmanned aircraft
for investigations into things like cattle rustling, drug dealing, and the search for missing persons.

"Any drone flying over 400 feet needs a certification or authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration, part of the DOT. But there is currently no information available to the public about who specifically has obtained these authorizations or for what purposes. EFF filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in April of 2011 for records of unmanned aircraft activities, but
the DOT so far has failed to provide the information."

It's not clear exactly what EFF is chasing. The "cattle rustling" mention appears to refer to a case which took place in Nelson County, North Dakota where, as ANN reported, Sheriff Kelly Janke got assistance from Customs and Border Protection after being chased off a farm. Privacy advocates seem to overlook the fact that Janke had a warrant for the search, and EFF seems to have missed the point that the drone was flown by CBP, not by "local law enforcement." FAA approval for testing of drones in civilian
law enforcement applications above 400' AGL have been extremely limited and well publicized.

EFF says it has escalated its efforts to a lawsuit. It's possible the list sought by the foundation simply does not exist, but the government is required by law to reply to a FOIA request within 20 days, with either the requested information or an explanation of why it is not being provided. Even in a time when many Americans are unnerved by security measures seen as dangerously overreaching, that provision of the FOIA appears to be routinely ignored.

Legal precedent in the US has already established that activity which might be viewed from the air carries no expectation of privacy, even in your own back yard. But the sophisticated sensors on drones derived from military applications may prompt further discussion. EFF notes, "The use of drones in American airspace could dramatically increase the physical tracking of citizens – tracking that can reveal deeply personal details about our private lives. We're asking the DOT to follow the law and
respond to our FOIA request so we can learn more about who is flying the drones and why."



More News

Aero-News: Quote of the Day (09.22.22)

“The Roscosmos State Corporation regrets to announce the death of the Hero of the Soviet Union, Hero of Russia, USSR pilot-cosmonaut, holder of the world record for the longe>[...]

ANN's Daily Aero-Linx (09.22.22)

Aero Linx: Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus) Formerly known as the Australian Ultralight Federation, Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus) is the peak body in Australia res>[...]

ANN's Daily Aero-Term (09.22.22): Visual Descent Point

Visual Descent Point A defined point on the final approach course of a nonprecision straight-in approach procedure from which normal descent from the MDA to the runway touchdown po>[...]

Airborne 09.19.22: Drone Racing Championships, CO MidAir, Reclaimed Airliner

Also: Avgas White Paper, Annual Space Day, Reselling Chinese 737s, Brazilian H125s The popularity of UAV racing was compellingly evinced by the 710 drone-pilots who vied to enter t>[...]

Aero-News: Quote of the Day (09.23.22)

“My job is to win tomorrow... Nobody’s going to care about my plans for the KC-46 or my fleet in 10 years if I lose tomorrow. I need it now. I am extremely straightforw>[...]

blog comments powered by Disqus





© 2007 - 2022 Web Development & Design by Pauli Systems, LC