Photo by Gary Winterboer. Courtsey of Courtesy AeroVironment, Inc., www.avinc.com.
The FAA has given permission to law enforcement agencies to use small drones such as this one called, the Qube. It weighs approximately five pounds, is three feet wide and has a camera installed.
In May, KPCC reported that the FAA was loosening its regulations to make it easier for police departments to use unmanned drones. The drones can weigh up to 25 pounds and fly up to 400 feet high. Used for years by the CIA and US Military, law enforcement agencies around the country, including those in Los Angeles, have been thinking about using drones for aerial surveillance.
Naturally, privacy rights activists are suspicious of what drones may reap, and Tuesday, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul took action by introducing Senate Bill 3287 (also known as the Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2012). The bill, if passed, would limit the domestic uses of unnmanned aircraft. First off, police would have to get a warrant before using a drone and any information obtained by drone without a warrant would not be allowed in court.
The bill would allow exceptions: drones could be used without warrants to patrol along U.S. borders; to counter a high risk of a terrorist attack; and in extreme cases when "swift action to prevent imminent danger to life is necessary."
The bill would also allow anyone stalked by a law enforcement drone to sue.
"Like other tools used to collect information in law enforcement, in order to use drones a warrant needs to be issued. Americans going about their everyday lives should not be treated like criminals or terrorists and have their rights infringed upon by military tactics," Paul said in a press release.