The Common Good

DRONE WATCH: Loan-a-Drone

While most news of drones is their use abroad by the U.S. military and CIA, they are also increasingly used for surveillance in this country. A report in the Washington Times shows that the Department of Homeland Security and its Customs and Border Protection agency are using their drones to assist local law enforcement agencies.

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“The practice is raising questions inside and outside government about whether federal officials may be creating an ad-hoc, loan-a-drone program without formal rules for engagement, privacy protection or taxpayer reimbursements. The drones used by CPB can cost between $15 million and $34 million each to buy, and have hourly operational costs as well.

“In addition, DHS recently began distributing $4 million in grants to help local law enforcement buy its own, smaller versions of drones, opening a new market for politically connected drone makers as the wars overseas shrink.

“The double-barreled lending and purchasing have some concerned that federal taxpayers may be subsidizing the militarization of local police forces and creating new threats to average Americans’ privacy.”

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