Privacy watchdogs are concerned about the use of drones over domestic airspace. “The loss of privacy is real. You want to sunbathe in the nude on your own property? Now you can’t be sure nobody is watching you,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Americans will have to wonder if our enthusiasm for catching illegal immigrants is worth sacrificing our freedoms.”
U.S. courts allow law enforcement to conduct surveillance from helicopters and airplanes, and privacy protections end when the public ventures outdoors. The domestic Predator’s surveillance cameras do not allow them to see through windows.
Despite its initial reluctance, the Federal Aviation Administration allows the drones to fly a high-altitude corridor along the Mexican and Canadian borders but forbids them over congested urban areas — for safety, not privacy, concerns. Because of the orientation of the runway at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station, the Predators are grounded when the wind direction requires them to pass over a neighboring suburb.