A series of events in the last two weeks have set the stage for how surveillance drones will be operated by local law enforcement in the United States and how citizens can demand privacy protections as domestic use escalates. As EFF has previously reported, Congress passed a bill in February mandating the FAA must open national airspace to drones, despite the extensive and unprecedented civil liberties dangers they pose to every American.
The FAA, in new rules announced on Monday, made the authorization procedure easier, stating they have “streamlined the process” for “public agencies”—which includes local law enforcement—to legally operate drones in U.S. skies. We know that dozens of law enforcement agencies already have drones, based on information from EFF’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit over the FAA’s initial refusal to release the list of authorizations. And one of the biggest cities with a police department on the list was Seattle.
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