The US Predator drones are being customized to perform surveillance, which would identify gun-carrying civilians and probably track cell phones, the Homeland Security Department said.
Anti-spy drone and peace activist Tighe Barry said, “Do we want to have drones here that are able to survey us, use highly technical devices to infiltrate our homes, our cars, our conversations on the street? This is wrong and the American people need to discuss this.”
Currently, drones are patrolling the borders of the United States and they are becoming highly popular with the FBI, the Secret Service, local police and other US law enforcement agencies.
Reports say drones were used to locate Chris Dorner, a former LAPD officer accused of killing two police officers. Dorner’s body was found in a burned-out ranch in California in February.
However, US officials have not confirmed that drones were used to spot Dorner.
An unnamed Homeland Security official said that current drones are able to differentiate movement between humans and animals, but they are unable to distinguish facial recognition successfully.
Concerns regarding the use of domestic drones in the United States grew last month, when federal legislation announced that it would establish legal safeguards for domestic surveillance.
In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration said it would address “privacy-related data collected” from surveillance by domestic drones.
If US lawmakers approve heavier use of domestic drones, then Americans could expect thousands to be flown over the country in the future.