Although the FAA plans to set guidelines for commercial and governmental drone use by 2015, some states – like California – say that’s too late and are deploying their own regulations.
Last week, the California State Assembly launched the first of what may be many hearings to discuss ways to protect citizens from UAV privacy violations by law enforcement.
Among the topics taken up by California’s Judiciary Committee as well as the Select Committee on Privacy and Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media was a bill (AB 1327) (passed by committee in May). AB 1327 would require police to obtain a warrant before deploying a drone and forcing all government agencies to destroy any UAV-collected data not covered by a warrant.
The clamor for civil-liberties in the Golden State came into sharp focus recently after an investigative report revealed that the San Jose Police Department owns a drone of which it claimed to have no records.
Ironically, a plan to buy and use the drone to defuse bombs blew up in the face of San Jose officials, raining down a barrage of public-relations fallout. An Aug. 7 editorial in the San Jose Mercury News called out the agency and the elected officials who allowed the purchase:
“The first mistake the San Jose Police Department made was buying a drone without first finding out if the community was comfortable with it; the second was fumbling requests for information when people heard rumors. Mayor Chuck Reed and the City Council … need to publicly pass a requirement to keep the drone in its box until rules have been set for its use — including transparency, outside oversight and accountability.”
As more and more states tag into the drone-regulation game, Congress is also getting impatient with the pace of FAA policymaking. This week Sen. Charles Schumer called for tighter drone regulations for both private and public UAVS.
“Do we want it to be perfectly legal that someone can send a drone and peer into our living room or bedroom window?” Schumer said.
Back in California, media outlets like the Los Angeles Times are also calling for more regulation and favor the passage of bills like AB 1327:
“This bill is only a start. Far more drone regulation will be needed in future years as society learns more about the uses — and misuses — of unmanned aircraft. Next on the Legislature’s to-do list should be reasonable restrictions on private and commercial use of drones in order to further protect the safety and privacy of state residents.”
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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