The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a digital-rights group, has uncovered a list of organizations — many of them local and state law enforcement agencies and universities — that have applied to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for authorization to fly drones. The list was released in response to an October 2012 lawsuit filed against the Department of Homeland Security, in which the EFF cited the Freedom of Information Act in its attempt to discover more about how and why drones were being used within US borders.
What’s the Big Idea?
EFF analyst Rebecca Jeschke says that as drones become smaller and technology more advanced, the potential for violations could increase considerably: “[T]hey could soon maneuver into all sorts of spaces we normally consider private…[and the] video that’s collected could be around a long time.” For the FAA’s part, it focuses on safety requirements rather than privacy issues, but that could change with the passage of a new act introduced in Congress last year. Meanwhile, according to EFF lawyer Jennifer Lynch, the list represents “only a small fraction” of the information requested by the lawsuit.