A House bill introduced on Thursday would require federal law enforcement officials to get a warrant if they want to conduct aerial surveillance inside the country.
It would also forbid them from identifying people who are inadvertently captured by aerial surveillance.
The measure, dubbed the Protecting Individuals From Mass Aerial Surveillance Act, is sponsored by Rep. Suzan DelBeneSuzan DelBeneA guide to the committees: House 16 people to watch in tech House passes bill requiring warrants for email searches MORE (D-Wash.).
The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Ted PoeTed PoeA guide to the committees: House Lawmakers debate allowing cameras in courtrooms Hey Congress: Where’s the ban on ISIS? MORE (R-Texas), Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerKentucky Dem lawmaker questions Trump's mental health A guide to the committees: House Democrats raise questions about Trump’s mental health MORE (D-Ore.) and Don Beyer (D-Va.). A related bill was introduced in the Senate earlier this year.
It comes amid growing concerns about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s use of aircraft to conduct surveillance of Americans.
Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI had attached so-called stingray devices small airplanes. The devices simulate cellphone towers and are able to collect information about cellphones around them.
Then, in June, the FBI said that it was operating a fleet of planes. The Associated Press reported that they were carrying cameras and the stingrays. The FBI told the AP at the time that the aircraft "are not equipped, designed or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance."
Since then, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security have both instituted policies that require their officers to obtain warrants before using the cell site simulators.
But some privacy advocates have said that exemptions contained in the policies make it too easy for agencies to still use the devices without a warrant.