Unmanned drones could soon be buzzing in the skies above many U.S. cities, as the federal government green-lights the technology for local law enforcement amid widespread privacy concerns.
The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday began to explain the rules of the sky for these newly licensed drones at potentially dozens of sites across the country. The agency, on its website, said that government "entities" will have to obtain a special certificate in order to fly the aircraft, adding that the FAA is "streamlining the process for public agencies to safely fly (drones) in the nation's airspace."
In doing so, the government is taking a tool that has become synonymous with U.S. counterterror warfare in countries like Pakistan and Yemen -- and putting it in the hands of U.S. law enforcement.
Unlike some of the drones used overseas, these will not be equipped with missiles. They are to be used purely for surveillance. But that alone has raised serious privacy concerns on Capitol Hill and beyond.
"Our Founding Fathers had no idea that there would be remote-control drones with television monitors that can feed back live data instantaneously -- but if they had, they would have made darn sure ... that these things were subject to the Fourth Amendment (protecting individual privacy)," Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, told Fox News.