The pentagon has used spy drones all over the US in the past decade, and they have been deemed lawful, according to the Pentagon inspector general, USA Today reports.
Fewer than 20 non-military missions by spy drones occurred between 2006 and 2015, according to a Pentagon report, which states that the military took the use of spy drones on US territory “very seriously.”
A partial list of the drone missions released by the Pentagon indicates that the missions were mainly related to natural disasters, such as floods, fires, and rescue missions.
In 2013, FBI director Robert Mueller said that the agency sometimes used spy drones to assist investigations, but they were used in a “very, very minimal way, very seldom,” the Guardian reports.
“The primary purpose of DoD domestic UAS operations is for DoD forces to gain realistic training experience, test equipment and tactics in preparation for potential overseas warfighting missions and on occasion support DSCA training and exercises,” reads a note on the Pentagon’s website.
An analyst for the ACLU said that even if the program was legal, it’s good to be cautious about the use of spy drones, since it’s possible that the laws governing it are outdated for the new technology that has cropped up.
All instances where military drones were used by civilian authorities were first personally approved by the Secretary of Defense, the report said.
The report also said that demand for domestic use of spy drones have increased, as opportunities to train pilots abroad have decreased.