Following a landmark Freedom of Information lawsuit, the FAA was forced to reveal 63 drone launch sites across the U.S. That’s right. Unmanned spy planes are being launched from locations in 20 states and their owners include the military and universities.
The unmanned drones, some of which may have been designed to kill terror suspects, are being launched from locations in 20 states.
Most of the active drones are deployed from military installations, enforcement agencies and border patrol teams, according to the FAA. But amazingly, 19 universities and colleges are also registered as owners of what are officially known as unmanned aerial vehicles.
There are also 21 mainstream manufacturers, such as General Atomics, who are registered to use drones domestically.
As well as active locations, the FAA also revealed 16 sites where licenses to use spy planes have expired and four where authorizations have been disapproved. But, the FAA has not revealed what kinds of drones might be based at any of these locations. The agency says it will release this data later.
Congress recently passed legislation paving the way for what the FAA predicts will be somewhere in the region of 30,000 drones in operation in US skies by 2020.
Once signed by president Obama, the FAA Reauthorization Act allows for the FAA to permit the use of drones and develop regulations for testing and licensing by 2015.
“Many drones are designed to carry surveillance equipment, including video cameras, infrared thermal imagers, radar and wireless network ‘sniffers,’ ” a Congressman wrote.
The representative also added that the FAA has “the responsibility to ensure that the privacy of individuals is protected and that the public is fully informed about who is using drones in public airspace and why.”
While the use of drones in the U.S. is little known, American operations overseas have been well documented. As well as high-profile terrorists, campaigners claim hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in the border regions of Pakistan, where they are most active.
Of course you may be saying this is all okay with you, “just as long as we’re safe.” Personally, I’m sick and tired of hearing that. But, plenty of people are still saying it.
Whatever you think, please don’t be naive enough to think that these are only going to be used on criminals. If you think they will never be used to spy on law-abiding Americans, you need to wake up.