Drone-Limiting Bill Overwhelmingly Approved by California Assembly

The California Assembly voted
this week to place restrictions on the use of unmanned aerial
vehicles (UAV), or drones. The bill,
, passed on Wednesday with overwhelming bipartisan
support. The state’s official legislative website
that the bill passed 63-6. It will now move on to a
state senate for consideration.

Authored by assemblymen Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo), Steven
Bradford (D-Gardena) and Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), AB-1327 would
require police to obtain a warrant based on probable cause before
operating a drone or contracting others to do so. Though, it does
make an exception for unwarranted use for “emergency situations if
there is an imminent threat to life” and the inspection of state
parks. The bill would also require that any footage or data be
destroyed within six months of collection, as well as prohibit
drones from being weaponized.

Gorell rejected the idea of a moratorium on UAVs like the one in

. He
to the Los Angeles Times, “I don’t think
that’s the right answer here. The right answer, frankly, is for us
to embrace the new technology because it is the future.”
Additionally, he
Reuters that he believes that California stands to benefit
from the development of
commercial drone use

Nevertheless, Gorell, a former Navy Reserve commander, is
knowledgeable and cautious about their capabilities, such as
thermal imaging. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation has
, this technology provides law enforcement with a means
to conduct unwarranted searches of homes.

The Tenth Amendment Center’s Michael Maharrey
the significance of state-based limitations on

We know that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is using
grant money to get drones in the hands of local law enforcement…
DHS and other federal agencies will never need to fly a single
drone if they can just get all the states doing it for them. Once
they’re in the air, they’ll simply point to information-sharing
provisions of the PATRIOT Act or other federal acts and have a
network of spies everywhere… By passing state laws to restrict
drone use, we can stop this nightmare before it ever takes off.

California isn’t the only state crafting legislation to limit
the use of drones.
, and
are among states currently considering drone-related
legislation.  In 2013, 13
 adopted new laws about drones.

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