Recently uncovered government documents reveal that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) unmanned Predator B drone fleet has been custom designed to identify civilians carrying guns and track cell phone signals.
“I am very concerned that this technology will be used against law-abiding American firearms owners,” said founder and executive vice president of the Second Amendment Foundation, Alan Gottlieb. “This could violate Fourth Amendment rights as well as Second Amendment rights.”
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) obtained a partially redacted copy of Homeland Security’s drone requirements through a Freedom of Information Act request; CNET uncovered an unredacted copy.
Homeland Security design requirements specify that its Predator B drones “shall be capable of identifying a standing human being at night as likely armed or not” and must be equipped with “interception” systems capable of reading cell phone signals.
The first known domestic use of a drone to arrest a U.S. citizen occurred last year in the small town of Lakota, North Dakota when rancher Rodney Brossart was arrested for refusing to return six of his neighbor’s cows that had wandered on to his property. Critics say the fact that domestic drones are being used in such minor matters raises serious concerns about civil liberties and government overreach.