US lawmakers on Tuesday expressed concern over the use of drone strikes. At a hearing [materials] in the US House Committee on Homeland Security [official website] lawmakers called on Congress and the Department of Homeland Security [official website] to address the issue of domestic drones [opening statement, PDF] and their potential security and safety implications. The government already owns and operates drones within the borders of the US, but more certificates of use are being issued to law enforcement, academic institutions and private entities to fly domestic drones. Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management Michael McCaul [official website] stated that while drones will soon dominate the skies, no agency is taking the lead in developing rules and regulations for their use. Research is showing that drones can be used to attack targets domestically and can be hacked into and hijacked with only a relatively small amount of money. Testimony then turned to issues related to domestic drones and what needs to be done to prepare for their use. These current certificates, as well as more to be issued, will be the first non-governmental drone uses within the US.
Drones have been used for targeted killings by the US military and other countries. Drone attacks [JURIST news archive] have occurred most recently in Pakistan. In March Pakistan lawmakers called on the US to stop [JURIST report] CIA drone attacks, and the use of the drones have created debate [JURIST op-ed] about their compliance with international laws. The Obama administration has defended the legality [JURIST report] of the use of drones in efforts to counteract terrorist groups such as al Qaeda.