Sen. Will Espero introduced a measure last week requiring police to obtain a warrant before gathering evidence by means of a UAV except in a hostage crisis, search-and-rescue operation or situation in which the “use of [UAV] is necessary to prevent immediate danger of death or serious physical injury to any person.”
“Drones are becoming very popular, and not only for recreational use,” Espero told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “With this newfound popularity, we need to make sure that we have rules and regulations,” he added.
The bill also bans anyone – law-enforcement or otherwise – from equipping a drone with a weapon. In addition, the measure states that neither public agencies nor private citizens may fly a drone “at a height of less than twenty-five feet above a residential property without express permission from the property owner or tenant.”
Drone users would further be prohibited from collecting personal information or intentionally publishing or distributing personal information acquired via drone without express written consent from the individual whose personal information is acquired.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “45 states considered 168 bills related to drones. Twenty states … passed 26 pieces of legislation.” More than 12 states adopted some form of legislation regulating law-enforcement use of UAVs last year:
A 2015 Main law demands police agencies receive state approval before acquiring any drones and that a warrant be issued before using UAVs in criminal investigations (with some noted exceptions).
In May, Nevada enacted AB 239 which requires all drones used by state public agencies be registered as well as limiting police usage.
Two years ago, the Oregon legislature passed HB 2710 which prevents law enforcement from using drones without a warrant, with exceptions for exigent circumstances.
A Utah law prohibits the use of drones to obtain any data unless the mission is in pursuit of a search warrant, part of a testing site mission or to “locate a lost or missing person in an area in which a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy.”
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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