May 8, 2012 / by emptywheel


Drone Oopsies in US Airpsace

As if on cue, Steven Aftergood just released this Air Force directive:

9.6.1. Air Force units with weapon system video and tactical ISR capabilities may collect imagery during formal and continuation training missions as long as the collected imagery is not for the purpose of obtaining information about specific US persons or private property. Collected imagery may incidentally include US persons or private property without consent. Imagery may not be collected for the purpose of gathering any specific information about a US person or private entity, without consent, nor may stored imagery be retrievable by reference to US person identifiers.

9.6.2. Air Force Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operations, exercise and training missions will not conduct nonconsensual surveillance on specifically identified US persons, unless expressly approved by the Secretary of Defense, consistent with US law and regulations. Civil law enforcement agencies, such as the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the US Coast Guard, will control any such data collected.

So while DOD drones flying over our airspace are not supposed to intentionally collect data on US persons unless the Secretary of Defense tells them to (but if the former CIA Director says it’s okay, I guess it’s okay then), if they incidentally collect information, it will be retained and/or passed onto a law enforcement agency like the FBI or ICE.

And once it gets to the FBI or ICE, the National Counterterrorism Center will get access to it. Which will allow them to data mine it with any of the other US person information they have in hand.

But don’t worry. Those six new drone test sites in the US won’t affect our privacy in the least!

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