"The Constitution is taking a back seat so that boys can play with their toys," Burke said. "It's kind of scary that they can use a laptop computer to zap people from the air."
A recent ACLU report said allowing drones greater access takes the country "a large step closer to a surveillance society in which our every move is monitored, tracked, recorded, and scrutinized by the authorities."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which focuses on civil liberties threats involving new technologies, sued the FAA recently, seeking disclosure of which agencies have been given permission to use drones. FAA officials declined to answer questions from The Associated Press about the lawsuit.
Industry officials said privacy concerns are overblown.
"Today anybody— the paparazzi, anybody — can hire a helicopter or a (small plane) to circle around something that they're interested in and shoot away with high-powered cameras all they want," said Elwell, the aerospace industry spokesman. "I don't understand all the comments about the Big Brother thing."
AP Television producer Thomas Ritchie contributed to this report.
Follow Joan Lowy at http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy
Federal Aviation Administration: http://www.faa.gov
Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International: http://www.auvsi.org
Aerospace Industries Association: http://www.aia-aerospace.org/
ACLU report: http://tinyurl.com/77n9h7m
Electronic Frontier Foundation lawsuit: http://tinyurl.com/7feyfv9
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