Texas has been sued over state drone regulations that the plaintiff says appear to be racially discriminatory.
The Washington Times reports that Laredo resident Manuel R. Flores sued the state on Friday to stop a new state drone regulation that grants drone operators the “unfettered” right to capture aerial photography along the state’s southwest border. Flores says that the law appears to be discriminatory, targeting Mexicans for potentially intrusive monitoring. Flores says that the law should be consistent throughout the state, either allowing filming or prohibiting it; but should not treat citizens who live along the Mexican border differently.
Texas state drone law the use of drones to obtain footage of anything on private property, but Gov. Greg Abbott enacted several new drone laws last year creating exceptions for some commercial applications. Flores and his attorney Carlos Soltero claim that the exemption for a 25-mile zone along the border that allows anyone to use a drone to obtain footage doesn’t make sense.
“Inexplicably, the Texas Legislature and Governor Abbott has chosen to make this artificial strip of lands 25 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border a playground for drone enthusiasts who would otherwise be precluded from filming people in their homes, washing their cars, gardening in their yard, or simply walking on their private property,” says the complaint.
“It appears that the legislature has determined that the privacy of Texas residents of Mexican descent and national origin as well as others who live or have property as far away as 25 miles from the border as being less important than those of other Texans or less worthy of protection from drone-taken images,” the lawsuit charges.
The Texas state law is simply the latest drone regulation to come under fire as federal lawmakers argue over whether the 2016 FAA Reauthorization package should specify the federal agency’s preemption over state laws.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.