Mark Udall questioned the Federal Bureau of Investigation's use of unmanned aerial vehicles in the United States without first ensuring its actions were consistent with the Fourth Amendment and U.S. privacy law. FBI Director Robert Mueller told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today that the agency uses drones for surveillance in certain instances on U.S. soil despite only being in "the initial stages" of developing privacy guidelines that protect civil liberties.
"Unmanned aerial systems have the potential to more efficiently and effectively perform law enforcement duties, but the American people expect the FBI and other government agencies to first and foremost protect their constitutional rights," Udall said. "I am concerned the FBI is deploying drone technology while only being in the 'initial stages' of developing guidelines to protect Americans' privacy rights. I look forward to learning more about this program and will do everything in my power to hold the FBI accountable and ensure its actions respect the U.S. Constitution."
Udall has led efforts in Congress to ensure that private-sector operators of unmanned aerial systems do not violate Americans' privacy rights, having introduced the Safeguarding Privacy and Fostering Aerospace Innovation Act.
Udall, who serves on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is a longtime and steadfast defender of Americans' constitutional liberties. He has worked with Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to limit the federal government's ability to collect data on Americans without links to terrorism or espionage. Udall also has championed Americans' Fourth Amendment rights, including successfully urging the IRS earlier this year to abandon the use of warrantless searches of Americans' private electronic communications.