The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) plans to use small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) in infrastructure security exercises both to record the exercises to improve training and as a potential threat requiring responsive action.
A privacy impact statement released by the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday says that CISA’s Infrastructure Security Division Soft Targets and Crowded Places Task Force has acquired three U.S.-made sUAS for the exercises.
“Aerial photo and video footage of an operational exercise would capture images, and video, of those individuals located within the predesignated exercise areas while also capturing the broader exercise location for exercise map-making purposes,” says the assessment, which is dated July 25. “It is an exercise best practice for controllers and evaluators to capture video and photographic evidence during the course of the exercise, so that exercise participants can fully understand what certain findings may be identified during the course of an after action.”
As part of the equipment used in an exercise, the assessment says one example would be to employ an unmanned system as a “non-sanctioned” sUAS in a sporting venue to deploy a suspicious package and have disaster responders deal with it just as they would in a real-life incident.
In the second use case, DHS says the sUAS would not record any images. It also says that the aircraft would only be operated within the operator’s line-of-sight, per Federal Aviation Administration regulations, and have fail-safe mechanisms to return to the launch point in case a signal is lost with the ground terminal.
The aircraft can either be flown remotely or along a prescribed flight path.
The purpose of the PIA is to explain that the sUAS would not be used to capture faces and other information that would identify either exercise participants or nearby bystanders. It also lays out the steps that would be taken to ensure personally identifiable information isn’t obtained by the systems.