(Telegraph) – The FBI is operating a small air force of surveillance planes flying across the US and registered under fake company names.
The low-flying aircraft are equipped with video cameras and technology that can identify mobile phone users thousands of feet below even if the user is in their own home rather on the street.
The disclosure, revealed in an Associated Press investigation, raises fresh questions about the scale of domestic surveillance by the US government and its tendency to gather information on Americans who are not suspected of any crime.
It comes as the US Senate debates a bill intended to stop the NSA from collecting the phone records of millions of Americans under one of the controversial programmes exposed by Edward Snowden.
A standoff between Republican senators meant that Congress allowed the Patriot Act, the sweeping anti-terror law passed after September 11th, to lapse on Sunday night without voting on a bill to replace it.