As I've documented extensively on this website, various federal agencies from DoD to DHS to FBI have been flying domestic drones for some time now. In late June 2013, Robert Mueller confirmed that his FBI flies drones domestically. (See the above video.)
The FBI confirmed this week that drones are carrying out surveillance within the United States. FBI Director Robert Mueller called the drone use "very seldom," while acknowledging regulations to address privacy concerns have yet to be completed. Meanwhile, in the latest leak of classified National Security Agency material, The Guardian reported Thursday that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has signed off on rules that appear to grant wide latitude to the NSA in retaining and making use of Americans’ private data, rather than "minimizing" its usage. We discuss the latest issues of domestic surveillance with Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild and author of the forthcoming book, "Spying on Democracy: Government Surveillance, Corporate Power and Public Resistance." Boghosian examines the increasing monitoring of ordinary citizens, and the corporations that work with the government to mine data collected from a wide range of electronic sources.
Here in Massachusetts, we are working to pass legislation that would restrict law enforcement drone use to emergencies, or require police to get probable cause warrants before deploying them at a surveillance subject. Please take action to support the bill here, and come to the State House on July 9 for the hearing, to take place in rooms A1 and A2. Spread the word.
Massachusetts is one of 42 states that have proposed drone privacy legislation. Bills have been enacted in 6 states, and are still active in 28 states. (June 21, 2013).