The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced Friday that it has issued 1,478 drone permits to operators since 2007, a number far greater than was previously known.
In the next couple of years, that number will only continue to grow. The FAA is set to open the nation’s airspace to drones by 2015, and plans to create six new sites across the country to test them, “a crucial step before widespread government and commercial use is approved,” reported the LA Times.
The drone operators include local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, universities and state transportation departments. They range in size and capabilities from small model airplanes to the larger “Predators.”
The increase in drone use and licensing comes amid growing privacy concerns from not only state lawmakers but those on Capital Hill as well.
Eighteen states have proposed legislation that would limit the use of the unmanned aircraft. Charlottesville, Virginia has become the first city in the U.S. to formally pass an anti-drone bill, which not only prohibits the use of information captured by drones in a federal or state court, but also bans the city itself from leasing, buying or using unmanned aircraft.
In Washington, lawmakers are working to draw up regulations that would protect civil liberties and ease concerns over the drones.
But as Washington rushes to create legislation that would reign in advanced surveillance aircraft, technology might leave their policies in its dust. The rate at which unmanned aircraft is evolving is faster than the pens can move in the halls of Congress, with the sacrifice of our Fourth Amendment in the process.
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