Latest in Gear

Image credit: John Moore/Getty Images

Pentagon has deployed military drones in the US

There were close to 20 flights for non-military purposes.
122 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

John Moore/Getty Images

If you were skeptical that the US military would only fly its drones in combat zones, your suspicions were well-founded -- although the situation isn't as bad as you might think. A recently published Department of Defense report has revealed that the Pentagon deployed spy drones in the US for non-military missions between 2006 and 2015. There were "less than twenty" of these flights, and the Department maintains that all of them obeyed laws restricting the use of these drones at home. While the document doesn't say what happened on those flights, the current policy forbids spying on US residents.

There are mentions of drone requests that were either dropped or rejected. One Air Force unit gave up a request to use a drone for fire season training due to an "onerous approval process." In another case, the Marines shot down a mayor's desire to use a drone for spotting potholes. That just didn't "make operational sense," inspectors say.

While it sounds from the report as if officials respected the law, there are reasons for concern. It warns that policies about military drone use for civil roles are sometimes ambiguous, and that there's no standard process for it. For instance, no Defense Secretary has ever delegated someone to vet these missions -- if they didn't handle it themselves, there's a problem. The military will likely have to tighten its procedures if it wants to eliminate the chance that someone will misuse combat drones over American soil.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
122 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

Engadget's Guide to Privacy

Engadget's Guide to Privacy

View
Three Mile Island's infamous nuclear plant shuts down after 45 years

Three Mile Island's infamous nuclear plant shuts down after 45 years

View
Samsung asks users to be extra careful with the Galaxy Fold

Samsung asks users to be extra careful with the Galaxy Fold

View
Uber sues NYC over vehicle caps

Uber sues NYC over vehicle caps

View
Australia will help NASA go to the Moon and Mars

Australia will help NASA go to the Moon and Mars

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr