Congress has passed a controversial bill that will make it easier for law enforcement officials to fly unmanned drones over US airspace.
The FAA Reauthorization Act – which President Obama is slated to approve – also orders the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to formulate regulations for the mass testing and licensing of commercial drones by 2015. Indeed, the FAA currently estimates 30,000 drones will likely be flying over American skies by 2020.
Unsurprisingly, privacy advocates have expressed concern over the initiative, saying the Reauthorization Act will lead to the widespread use of drones for persistent electronic surveillance by various law enforcement agencies and private security companies.
“There are serious policy questions on the horizon about privacy and surveillance, by both government agencies and commercial entities,” Steven Aftergood, who heads the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, told the Washington Times.
Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Jennifer Lynch expressed similar sentiments.
“[This is] a huge push by lawmakers and the defense sector to expand the use of drones [in American airspace]… We [definitely] need a list [of drone approvals] so we can ask [each agency], ‘What are your policies on drone use? How do you protect privacy? How do you ensure compliance with the Fourth Amendment?'”
To be sure, the mass deployment of drones will undoubtedly test the boundaries of the Fourth Amendment and the Constitution in general, as the US appears to be moving closer to a dystopian future not unlike the alternate realities depicted in sci-fi novels such as 1984, THX 1138 and Snow Crash.
Unfortunately, it seems as if perpetual war, pervasive government surveillance, doublethink, manipulative political agendas and crackdowns against dissident movements like OccupyWallStreet (OWS) is the new status quo – at least for the foreseeable future.