Feinstein: Domestic Drone Use Poses 'Significant' Privacy Concerns

Thursday, 16 Jan 2014 08:02 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein says she saw a drone looking into the window of her home and suggested to lawmakers the incident should be a warning about the use of commercial unmanned aircraft.

The California Democrat, who was testifying Wednesday before a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on drone policy, said she saw the flying robot at the same time a demonstration was taking place outside her house, Politico reports.

She said she went to the window to peek out and "there was a drone right there at the window looking out at me," indicating it was inches from her face.

"Obviously the pilot of the drone had some surprise because the drone wheeled around and crashed, so I felt a little good about that," the senator added.

Feinstein urged her fellow lawmakers to "proceed with caution," saying her personal experience demonstrated that the surveillance capabilities of drones pose "significant" civilian privacy concerns and that senators should move swiftly to create "strong, binding, enforceable privacy policies that govern drone operations . . . before the technology is upon us," Politico noted.



The senator did not elaborate on the details of the event, but The Wire later released copies of a video and a photo suggesting the "drone" may have been a remote-controlled pink toy helicopter flying outside Feinstein's San Francisco home during a June protest by Code Pink against National Security Agency surveillance programs.

"Quite probably, it was a small toy helicopter flown by protesters from Code Pink — in which case it may not be the nightmare scenario one might fear," The Wire wrote.

The online publication also reported that Code Pink coordinator Tighe Barry confirmed the group regularly flies toy helicopters, many of which were purchased on Amazon, during their protests, and that Feinstein is a regular target for the group.

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