drones

A Kentucky state representative who has co-sponsored legislation to limit the use of surveillance drones says the bill provides an exemption for the use of drones by businesses, like the ones that Amazon plans to use for the delivery of products.

Brent Yonts says his support of the bipartisan bill hinges upon an exception for business drones.

“There are a lot of business uses for drones," said the Muhlenberg County Democrat. "For example, at certain heights that are low to the ground, they’re used in agriculture purposes to look for bugs in crops, for drought areas that might need to be irrigated and any number of things that are cheap and quick and efficient.”

Yonts says his bill's intent is to make sure drones are not invading Kentuckians’ privacy. The drones Amazon plans to begin using in four to five years are capable of delivering five pound packages to a location within 10 miles of one of its distribution centers.

Kentucky has a number of these centers that are closer to urban areas like Lexington and Louisville.

A letter sent to Kentucky Senator Rand Paul from the FBI says the bureau has used domestic drones for surveillance in ten cases since 2006. The letter came in response to a series of questions Sen. Paul asked the FBI regarding its drone use.

Sen. Paul says he will maintain a hold on the nomination of James Comey to be the next FBI Director. Senators can place holds on Presidential nominations, something that is often done to draw attention to a specific issue.

Paul says the FBI’s answers to his questions about domestic drone use are “insufficient”. The Bowling Green Republican has sent the bureau a follow-up letter with more questions.

Politico reports that in its response to Paul, the FBI says the agency has used domestic drones for surveillance in the U.S. in eight criminal cases and two national security cases since 2006.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul says he's still waiting for FBI officials to answer questions about how the agency is using drones in the U.S.

Appearing Thursday on the public radio program The Takeaway (broadcast at Noon C.T. on WKU Public Radio), the Bowling Green Republican said he's disturbed by the recent admission by FBI leaders that they are using drones in this country without having privacy guidelines in place.

Paul told host John Hockenberry that he has sent the FBI a series of questions about the agency's use of drones, such as whether or not the FBI obtains search warrants before using the surveillance tactic.

Paul said the revelations about domestic drone use combined with the amount of information being collected by the National Security Agency should concern lawmakers and citizens alike.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is telling FBI director Robert Mueller that he will object to the nomination of his successor until he gets answers on domestic drone use.

In a letter this week to Director Mueller, Senator Paul turns up the heat for an explanation of how the FBI uses surveillance drones on U.S. soil.  

“The American people have a right to know the limits that the federal government operates under when using these drones, and whether further action is needed to protect the rights of innocent Americans," writes Paul.

The letter is a follow-up to a previous letter sent on June 20 that asked for a response by July 1.  Senator Paul states in his latest correspondence that until he gets adequate answers to his questions, the Kentucky Republican will object to the nomination of James Comey as the next FBI director and encourage his colleagues to the do the same. 

Drone use is a hot-button issue for Paul, who in March, filibustered for 13 hours the nomination of CIA Director John Brennan over the use of domestic drones.

A bill has already been pre-filed for the Kentucky General Assembly's 2014 session—and it deals with the use of drones in the state.

Republican state Rep. Diane St. Onge bill limits how unmanned aircraft can be used. It allows U.S. military personnel to use drones in Kentucky for practice purposes. And it also allows drones to be used by law enforcement agencies if they have a specific warrant to do so.

Under St. Onge's bill, all other drone usage would be banned into Kentucky, including general use by law enforcement and corporations.

The freshman lawmaker from Lakeside Park says she's filing the bill because she's concerned about the threat to civil liberties with frequent drone use.

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