We're very grateful to U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester for standing up for the privacy and safety of Americans, and urging the federal government to fully disclose how it is using drones and what its legal basis is to do so.
In a March 28 letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, both senators expressed concern with the lack of transparency in how the federal government is using drones in the United States and overseas.
"Of great concern to us is the use of drones within the United States as tools for enhanced aerial surveillance, and at the heart of this issue is the right to privacy," they write. "Our home state of Montana is a stalwart supporter of this right and it is enshrined in our state constitution.
"The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees protection from unreasonable search and seizure. While the domestic use of unmanned aerial vehicles may serve useful purposes such as fighting wildfires and aiding in search and rescue efforts, the American people deserve to know that any use of drone technology for surveillance purposes holds true to our constitutional rights."
Sens. Tester and Baucus go on to call for the Department of Justice to be as transparent as possible about how it is using drones and the legal foundation it is using to justify drone use.
Here in Montana the ACLU is working to make sure that drones aren't abused by private companies or state and local law enforcement to spy on people without warrants, supporting two bills in the Montana Legislature to regulate their use.
We thank Sen. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) for sponsoring Senate Bill 196 and Sen. Robyn Driscoll (D-Billings) for sponsoring Senate Bill 150. Both seek to guard Montanans against the threat of aerial drones violating our right to privacy.