WASHINGTON – Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee expressed concern on Wednesday about the domestic use of drones, saying the often-tiny, unmanned flying devices could carry undesirable consequences regarding the right to privacy.
Republicans and Democrats acknowledged that drones offer law enforcement a potentially valuable tool that could even be used by farmers to survey their acreage at a relatively inexpensive cost.
But the device, also known as a UAS, an acronym for unmanned aircraft system, also has the ability to travel nearly undetected into areas where it is unwanted – people’s homes or businesses – and record private information, making it seem like something out of 1984, a novel by George Orwell.
“While there may be many valuable uses for this new technology, the use of unmanned aircraft raises serious concerns about the impact on the constitutional and privacy rights of American citizens,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the committee chairman.
That view was supported by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member, who said using drones to essentially spy on people without their knowledge is “contrary to the notion of what it means to live in a free society.”
“We need to make sure we have sufficient legal safeguards to promote innovation while protect the general public,” Grassley said.