Protecting Security and Privacy: An Analytical Framework for Airborne Domestic Imagery
Air Force Law Review, Vol. 70, Spring 2013
30 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2014
Date Written: 2013
The employment of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) assets, including Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), has been battle-tested in the overseas environment for more than ten years of war. However, employing these same assets to acquire airborne imagery during operations in the United States, such as during training or in support of civil authorities, requires an entirely different analysis to ensure compliance with Intelligence Oversight rules, the Posse Comitatus Act and other laws and policies which ensure mission accomplishment while protecting personal privacy. While the guidance is plentiful, determining the appropriate level of approval authority and applicable operational constraints for a particular mission sometimes remains a challenge.
In this article, I review the spectrum of capability-based and mission-focused guidance applicable to U.S. military operations involving airborne domestic imagery and propose a comprehensive analytical framework to determine the approval authority and constraints on action. I suggest utilizing a common-sense approach that cross-references the guidance based on (1) which capability is to be used: intelligence capability (IC); RPA; or non-IC/non-RPA and (2) what mission, or what “like-mission,” is to be performed: Defense Support to Civil Authorities; support to law enforcement activities; civil search and rescue; force protection; civil disturbance operations, counter-drug missions, training and exercise; and other authorized Department of Defense (DoD) missions. This work is the first of its kind to integrate the full range of guidance across disparate disciplines to form a cohesive approval authorities framework for DoD domestic imagery operations, missions and training in the United States.
Keywords: ISR, RPA, remotely piloted aircraft, domestic imagery, intelligence oversight, privacy, U.S. military, Department of Defense
JEL Classification: K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation