SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – The Electronic Frontier Foundation demands the Departments of Homeland Security and Transportation release documents about the government’s authorization of use aerial drones in the United States.
The federal FOIA complaints come after a congressional hearing revealed in July that the Federal Aviation Administration issued waivers to more than 100 public and private entities – not the 60 the FAA revealed in response to a Freedom of Information Act request enforced by a federal judge earlier this year.
At the July 19 hearing, written testimony from a director at the Government Accountability Office stated that the administration had issued 201 waivers to 106 federal, state, and local government entities, “including law enforcement entities as well as academic institutions,” the complaints say.
One filing stated that Customs and Border Patrol bought its ninth drone in December 2011 and was awaiting delivery of a tenth.
“We’ve seen bits and pieces of information on CBP’s Predator drones, but Americans deserve the full story,” EFF attorney Jennifer Lynch in a statement Wednesday.
“Drones are a powerful surveillance tool that can be used to gather extensive data about you and your activities. The public needs to know more about how and why these Predator drones are being used to watch U.S. citizens.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation claims that because of the discrepancy between the numbers cited at the hearing and what it was told in April this year, it filed another FOIA request for all records on the government’s drone authorization program, including a list of entities that were granted waivers.
Neither the FAA or CBP released the records, though both acknowledged receiving the foundation’s letters. Lynch said the “foot-dragging” exhibited by the agencies means the public will remain in the dark about the use predator drones over U.S. soil.
The foundation wants the court to order the agencies to release the records immediately.
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