WASHINGTON: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) uses drones for domestic surveillance purposes, the head of the agency Robert Mueller has said.
During an oversight hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Robert Mueller answered positively to a question posed by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) who asked, “Does the FBI use drones for surveillance on US soil?”
“It’s very seldom used and generally used in a particular incident when you need the capability,” Mueller told US lawmakers. “It is very narrowly focused on particularized cases and particularized needs.”
“There are a number of issues related to drones that will need to be debated in the future,” Mueller added.
Civil rights activists have raised concerns that the use of drones for spying purposes in the US would create a “surveillance society” in which authorities are allowed to monitor, track, record, and scrutinize every movement of citizens.
Mueller refused to give out more information about the bureau’s spying operations saying, there would be “a price to be paid for that transparency.”
Moreover, he briefly touched upon the contentious issue of domestic and international surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) which has recently been disclosed.
According to Mueller, 22 FBI agents, including 20 analysts and two overseers, have access to a huge surveillance database.
Top secret documents disclosed by former CIA and NSA contractor Edward Snowden have shown that the NSA has been authorized to collect massive amounts of data on US citizens and people across the world via major phone and Internet companies.