The big push in Congress to open up domestic airspace in the U.S. to unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, is developing with hardly any lobbying opposition, despite potentially dire consequences for civil liberties.
Congress quietly authorized the domestic use of drones this past winter, which the government says can be used for everything from law enforcement, first responders, and environmental monitoring. Drones have typically been used to kill people in Pakistan, Yemen, and beyond, and their domestic use could present problems for privacy and other civil liberties concerns.
But opposition to the bill was negligible. The American Civil Liberties Union was the only organization to really lobby against the push for domestic drones, spending $500,000 during the first quarter, which partially went towards fighting this bill.
But that is nothing compared to the benefits proliferation of domestic drones could bring to military contractors. Among those lobbying for the bill was Textron Inc., which makes surveillance drones. The company spent $2.2 million lobbying in the first quarter on a variety of issues, including this one.
The Federal Aviation Administration was recently forced to reveal over 60 drone sites already constructed on U.S. soil. These sites already serve active drones in the country, most of which are deployed from military installations, enforcement agencies and border patrol teams.