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Police chiefs group says arming domestic spy drones with weapons would be bad

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 8:32PM EST

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Unmanned aerial drones are set to become a shiny new toy used by law enforcement officials to gather information, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be restrictions on how they’re used. The Hill reports that the International Association of Chiefs of Police on Thursday released a set of recommendations outlining how surveillance drones should and should not be used. Mercifully, the chiefs “strongly discouraged” equipping the drones with weapons since lobbing cruise missiles at jaywalkers could incite a public backlash.

Additionally, The Hill reports that the police chiefs recommended obtaining a warrant before using a drone in a way that would “intrude upon someone’s reasonable expectation of privacy” while also recommending that police departments destroy any images captured by drones that are unrelated to their investigations.

The American Civil Liberties Union, for its part, welcomed the chiefs’ initial policy guidelines but said they needed to add more protections to ensure that drones are used responsibly by law enforcement officials.

“We don’t think these recommendations go far enough to ensure true protection of privacy from drones,” the ACLU wrote on its official blog. “We also think protections need to be put into law, not merely promulgated by the police themselves.”


Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.