The increase in acquisition of unmanned aerial surveillance drones by the government is paying dividends for law enforcement authorities. Yet it is exacerbating angst over terrorist attacks from within, air traffic safety and the risk of ‘eyes in the sky’ over law-abiding citizens. At least 106 agencies across the USA have permission from the FAA to operate 207 drones, a number that is expected to increase as the FAA speeds up the approval of low-flying drones in the American airspace by 2015, as required by Congress. Drones have been a game changer in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as providing real-time surveillance of the US-Mexico border, but their proliferation has prompted concerns mainly over national security.
Recently, a suspect in Boston pleaded guilty to federal charges involving a plot to fly remote controlled aircraft loaded with explosives to collapse the dome of the US Capitol and attack the Pentagon. The plans to multiply drones also worry critics who question whether they infringe on individual privacy. A spokesman of the Department of Homeland Security said the FAA bears responsibility for the rules surrounding the integration of drones into US airspace.