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United States Privacy Technology

FBI Drone Deployment Timeline 33

An anonymous reader writes "The FBI insists that it uses drone technology to conduct surveillance in 'very limited circumstances.' What those particular circumstances are remain a mystery, particularly since the Bureau refuses to identify instances where agents deployed unmanned aerial vehicles, even as far back as 2006. In a letter to Senator Ron Paul last July, the FBI indicated that it had used drones a total of ten times since late 2006—eight criminal cases and two national security cases—and had authorized drone deployments in three additional cases, but did not actually fly them. The sole specific case where the FBI is willing to confirm using a drone was in February 2013, as surveillance support for a child kidnapping case in Alabama. New documents obtained by MuckRock as part of the Drone Census flesh out the timeline of FBI drone deployments in detail that was previously unavailable. While heavily redacted—censors deemed even basic facts that were already public about the Alabama case to be too sensitive for release, apparently—these flight orders, after action reviews and mission reports contain new details of FBI drone flights."
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FBI Drone Deployment Timeline

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @08:41PM (#46775569)

    Perhaps you meant his son Senator 'Rand' Paul?

  • quote: the nonprofit Texas EquuSearch regarding its use of drones for volunteer search-and-rescue efforts. (We’ve featured Schulman before for his defense of Raphael “Trappy” Pirker, a drone pilot who was fined $10,000 by the FAA.) Shulman elaborates on the humanitarian use of civilian drones here in the United States. Texas EquuSearch has used civilian drones in its efforts since 2005. In fact, says Schulman, EquuSearch believes drones to be the “single most useful technology that
  • by eyepeepackets ( 33477 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @09:28PM (#46775845)

    It should be clear by now that having anything less than complete transparency for these agencies is foolish, because we become the target of the tools when they are used in secret silence. Elected representatives are worthless in this regard. We need transparency via reporting requirements and guidelines that give full information to the public.

    If we are expected to be responsible for what these agencies do, then we need to know what they are doing.

    • We need transparency via reporting requirements and guidelines that give full information to the public.

      At the end of the day, you're still relying on foxes properly filling out their TPS henhouse reports.

  • While details are not available, the FBI totally promises that everything was legit.
  • by Trax3001BBS ( 2368736 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @09:38PM (#46775891) Homepage Journal

    Doh! it's deeper than it reads.

    Ethan Kidnapping (child kidnapping case in Alabama. ):

    "The FBI had borrowed from the U.S. military high-tech detection equipment similar to the technology used to discover homemade bombs in war zones, three Defense Department officials told CNN.

    It was unclear whether the equipment, which is not readily available to civilian law enforcement, had been used by the FBI.

    One of the defense officials said no members of the military were involved in the rescue. They would have been acting a technical advisers, the official said." []

  • ...and it's "limited circumstances" under which it will, eh, errr, deviate from the fourth Amendment.

    Yeah, right.

    If you believe that, I have some promises from our political parties to guarantee for you, too.
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @11:21PM (#46776381)

    I think we're getting to the point where "drone" has become a generic buzzword for any kind of remotely piloted aircraft that can do any kind of visual surveillance, whether it's a $100 toy that can take pictures of my back yard or a multi-million dollar turbofan-powered military aircraft with explosive missiles.

    I hate to sound like an apologist for the FBI, and I'm sure whatever they fly is probably more sophisticated than a lot of quadcopters, but I think some of the reaction to the FBI using drones seems misplaced. It's not like the FBI doesn't have access to Blackhawk helicopters and probably more than few equipped with military-grade FLIR & other surveillance gear. If they can accomplish whatever air surveillance they need without burning through $5k/hour or whatever it costs to operate a Blackhawk or the millions to buy another one, I'm OK with that.

    I think sometimes the fuzzy definition of drone implies the FBI has this magic fleet of autonomous surveillance craft performing wireless intercepts, reading my mail and spying in my bedroom window. I'm just not sure that's what's really happening.

    Of course the FBI's secrecy and [redacted] behavior doesn't help.

  • They've used drones for investigations 10 times this year, 500 times next year, 12,000 times the year after that, and so on ... And why the need to redact so heavily a report on conventional law enforcement operation which took place in the past? The redaction would make more sense if TFA had been referring to a military or Intelligence operation, but this was just a kidnapping case...?

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling