In a stark reminder for what drones could mean for privacy in the future, paparazzi giant TMZ is one of a myriad of corporate, media and government entities petitioning the government for permission to use surveillance drones.

And we’re not just talking about the massive, missile-firing drones like the ones the military uses. More modern drones are as small as birds, and can fly for miles and hover outside of windows.

WASHINGTON — The federal government is rushing to open America’s skies to tens of thousands of drones — pushed to do so by a law championed by manufacturers of the unmanned aircraft.

Yet questions remain about their potential to invade privacy and about their reliability, as two incidents on the U.S.-Mexico border demonstrate.

The drone makers have sought congressional help to speed their entry into a domestic market valued in billions of dollars.

The 60-member House of Representatives’ “drone caucus” — including the co-chairman, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo — has helped push that agenda. Over the past four years, caucus members have drawn nearly $8 million in drone-related campaign contributions, an investigation by Hearst Newspapers and the Center for Responsive Politics shows.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been flooded with applications from police departments, universities, private corporations and even the celebrity gossip site TMZ, all seeking to use drones that range from devices the size of a hummingbird to full-sized aircraft like those used by the U.S. military to target al-Qaida operatives in Pakistan and elsewhere.

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