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Domestic Drones: Coming Soon Over A Home Near You?

Publication Date: 
December 15, 2011
Sylvia Wood

Ryan Calo, Director of Privacy and Robotics,spoke with's Sylvia Wood about how "widespread use of drones domestically seems inevitable."

The Federal Aviation Administration is preparing new rules that could make it easier for law enforcement agencies to use drone aircraft in the U.S., raising concerns about privacy at a time when the aircraft are already conducting surveillance missions in some parts of the country.

The American Civil Liberties Union released a report Thursday demanding better protections against a surveillance society, “in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded and scrutinized by the authorities."


M. Ryan Calo, director for privacy and robotics at the Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society, says widespread use of drones domestically seems inevitable, particularly since they are an efficient and cost-effective alternative to helicopter and airplanes.


In addition to privacy concerns, Calo said, drones also raise safety and security issues, particularly because they can crash and their guidance systems can be hacked. He cited the case of the CIA drone recently lost in Iran. The Christian Science Monitor on Thursday reported a claim by an Iranian engineer that the Iranians were able to exploit a navigational weakness in the drone’s technology to make it land in Iran.