The FBI has been granted clearance from the FAA to use drones for surveillance purposes in the United States at least four times since 2010, The Washington Post
According to documents released by the FAA,
the FBI first asked for permission to use drones domestically in 2009, but the authorizations weren't approved until 2010.
The disclosure came a day after FBI Director Robert Mueller admitted Wednesday while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee that the agency had used drones for surveillance purposes in "very narrowly focused" cases
The documents do not say where, why, or how long the drones were used, but do support Mueller's testimony.
Mueller added that the FBI is still developing privacy guidelines for drone use.
FBI spokesman Paul Bresson declined to tell The Washington Post how many drones belong to the agency, where they have been used, or how often. However, he did say the agency always seeks authorization from the FAA before dispatching the unmanned aircraft.
But the FBI did detail one operation following Mueller's testimony in which a drone was used during a seven-day hostage situation in Alabama.
The FAA records were released after a Freedom of Information Act request was made by the San Francisco-based privacy rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation. However, a large portion of the documents were redacted by the agency, which cited confidentiality as the reason.
The FAA has been instructed by Congress to open up domestic airspace to drones by 2015, and the agency is in the process of developing new safety guidelines for their use now, according to the Post.
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