Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced a bill this week protecting "individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles commonly known as drone." The bill is just the latest in a string of recently proposed legislation to combat what an increasing number of lawmakers see as unwarranted surveillance of the American people.
The Paul bill, called the Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2012, has some notable exceptions - border patrol, to prevent imminent danger to life and in the case of a terrorist attack. The bill would also allow any American citizen to sue to government for unlawful use of the drone technology.
"Like other tools used to collect information in law enforcement, in order to use drones a warrant needs to be issued, Senator Paul said in a statement Tuesday. "Americans going about their everyday lives should not be treated like criminals or terrorists and have their rights infringed upon by military tactics."
The same day, Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) introduced an amendment to the already controversial Farm Bill banning the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) use of the technology, saying "farmers and ranchers don't trust EPA doing low-level surveillance flights over their operations."
The House's version of the Rand bill, called H. R. 5925, was introduced last week by Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) "to protect individual privacy against unwarranted governmental intrusion through the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles commonly called drones, and for other purposes."
Both Scott and Paul noted the emphasis the media and the American people place on drone strikes abroad without realizing they are being used here at home as well. The legislation comes on the heels of an Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announcement Monday the government is "streamlining the process for public agencies to safely fly [drones] in the nation's airspace."
An online international, collaborative research project also released a map on Tuesday showing the location of multiple domestic sites exhibiting "drone activities." The map "depicts the approximate locations of current and planned Department of Defense unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) activities inside the U.S." including the 125,000 acre Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, CA (Special Ops).
Scott and Paul are currently looking for co-sponsored and support among privacy-rights groups for their bills.
by RTT Staff Writer
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