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Latest Draft Legislation for Drones from U.S. House of Representatives

Tuesday, February 19th 2013
By Adena Schutzberg

New draft legislation in the House of Representatives is attempting to restrict the private use of drones, making it a misdemeanor to use a UAV to photograph a person or their property without their explicit permission.

Public space use would be equally limited, according to the "Preserving American Privacy Act of 2013" (PDF), requiring a max altitude of just six feet. Law enforcement bodies would have to obtain a warrant or court order to be able collect information on individuals in a private area. And it bans the use of armed drones in U.S. airspace--which clarifies the debate on targeting U.S. citizens.

That bill from Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Ted Poe (R-TX) was introduced on Feb 15 per a press release. The key elements:

  • Government-operated UAS must obtain a warrant to collect information that can identify individuals in a private area;
  • Government-operated UAS must obtain a court order and provide public notice beforehand to collect information that can identify individuals in defined public areas;
  • The warrant and court order requirements are subject to exceptions for emergencies, border security, and consent;
  • Private UAS cannot capture visual images or sound recordings of individuals engaging in personal activities in certain circumstances in which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy;
  • State laws on the use of UAS in the airspace of the state are not preempted;
  • Private and law enforcement UAS cannot use or operate UAS equipped with firearms or explosives in U.S. airspace.

Of course some states are working on their own legislation and come cities, like Charlottesville, WV already have bans in place.

- Fast Company via Geodata Policy

Image courtesy USGS.

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