Virginia City Outlaws Government Drones

Government domestic surveillance drones are rapidly moving up on the civil liberties agenda. Now one city has become the first in the nation to address this threat head-on: Charlottesville, Va. As Infowars reports:

Today we learn that Charlottesville, Va has passed legislation to outlaw the use of drones, making it the first US city to do so.

In a 3-2 vote, city councilors passed the anti-drone resolution Monday, echoing the State level effort to halt the use of drones for the next two years. There will, in effect now be a ban on the craft entering Charlottesville city limits, prohibiting any city agency from using the technology.

The council will urge the Virginia General Assembly and Congress to keep drones out of local air space.

The City Council's resolution reads:

“WHEREAS, the rapid implementation of drone technology throughout the United States poses a serious threat to the privacy and constitutional rights of the American people, including the residents of Charlottesville; and

“WHEREAS, the federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia have thus far failed to provide reasonable legal restrictions on the use of drones within the United States; and

“WHEREAS, police departments throughout the country have begun implementing drone technology absent any guidance or guidelines from law makers;

“NOW, THEREFORE, LET IT BE RESOLVED, that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, endorses the proposal for a two year moratorium on drones in the state of Virginia; and calls on the United States Congress and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia to adopt legislation prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court, and precluding the domestic use of drones equipped with anti-personnel devices, meaning any projectile, chemical, electrical, directed-energy (visible or invisible), or other device designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being; and pledges to abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones.”

Further good news from the Commonwealth is that both houses of the General Assembly have passed legislation that would also impose a two-year moratorium on the use of drones by government officials and agencies.

As Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, Executive Director of the ACLU of Virginia noted in a press release:

“Without new laws, drone technology will be used in a manner that will violate the fundamental right to be free from unreasonable searches and will have a chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of Virginians to assemble peaceably and speak freely. Virginia is right to get ahead of the use of this technology to ensure our privacy rights and to prevent the Commonwealth from becoming a surveillance state in which every individual’s actions are tracked. The moratorium will allow us to work with law enforcement and other stakeholders to adopt reasonable regulations limiting the use of drones and assuring public participation in and oversight of their use.”

One hopes that other states and cities will soon follow this lead in protecting our civil liberties from further erosion.

Disclosure: I am a resident of Charlottesville.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • waaminn||

    lol, the Feds dont care about some silly state laws lol.

    www.Im-Anon.tk

  • deified||

    Dangerous libertarian radicalism in Charlottesville.

    (I've never forgiven them since they replaced Star Hill.)

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    That's it. I'm done. The comments section from that article finally broke my brain. I'm finished following links. Hell, I'm probably finished coming to HampersandR. From here on, the internet for me will consist solely of "epic fail" videos, music reviews, and Yahoo Finance.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    And porn. Can't forget the porn.

  • Rich||

    Take a day or two off, EDG, and decompress. I go through this myself occasionally. Yes, the stupid is pervasive; but it's better to be informed -- and entertained.

  • Professional Target||

    I'm finished following links.

    Charlottesville is a college town (UVA). College townies tend to be extra stupid.

    "It's amazing because some people didn't want to believe it was true, they just stood there like sitting ducks," Green said.

    Me: "Is he pointing it at anybody?
    Green: "No."
    Me: "US population of 315,276,000. 358 rifle murders per year makes it about one percent of a percent of a percent chance of there being a problem here. Bye!" (And walk in the store.)

  • DaveAnthony||

    I have never been a big fan of Star Hill's beer. Devil's backbone in Nelson County is probably my favorite local brew. There is also a good new local micro-brewery (Champion) taking advantage of new VA state law that allows micro-breweries to serve the alcohol they brew without having to run a restaurant/serve good. Although they have often had food trucks stop by and park out front.

  • DaveAnthony||

    Serve FOOD, that is.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I, too, have outlawed drones over my property.

  • Tim||

    Now you and your camel can sit in peace under that tree.

  • Capt Ace Rimmer||

    Get the drone ban written into the state's constitution if there's stomach for that type of heroism.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    When I saw the headline I thought, "I wonder if it's Charlottesville?" And so it was.

  • Rich||

    Fucking Neo-Luddites.

    /sarc

  • Hyperion||

    One hopes that other states and cities will soon follow this lead in protecting our civil liberties from further erosion.

    Obama and Holder: Bwahhhaaahhaaa, laws? We don't need no stinkin laws! (continues to laugh maniacally while drinking the blood of child drone victims)

  • Virginian||

    If he'd bothered to read the paper, he would have seen that the whole state just declared a two year moratorium on drones for law enforcement use. Passed with really big support too. 83-16 in the House, 36-2 in the Senate.

    First state in the country to limit drones.

  • Virginian||

    Sorry, I should read the article before I run my mouth.

  • Almanian.||

    Nah - it doesn't stop the rest of us - why single out yourslf?

  • Virginian||

    Yeah seriously, I can't be the only one who immediately clicks through to the comments.

  • deified||

    When you cross over into Virginny from the north, two road signs immediately assault you (paraphrased):

    (1)Welcome to Virginia - Radar Detectors are illegal [WTF?! - ed.]

    (2) Speed limits are monitored by aircraft.

    It seems as if the police in the Commonwealth are already employing aircraft against their citizenry. I'm supposed to object to robot pilots? It'll probably save the states' taxpayers on Workers' Comp!

  • ||

    Ron, I am disappoint. Where is the rest of the article that points out the fact that a city has no authority over the airspace? I mean whether you agree with that premise or not, it is the law. You are only providing half the story. The half that supports your agenda. How often do we give other folks shit for doing the exact same thing?

    The bottom line is, the city doesn't own the airspace above it and cannot enforce such a ban. Can they ban manned aircraft from overflying their town? What's the difference?

    Unless in restricted airspace, an aircraft (VFR) can fly anywhere the pilot wants so long as it remains 1000 feet (within 2000 feet horizontal distance)above congested areas (cities/towns), 500 ft in non-congested areas and in sparsely populated ares, as low as he wants provided he remains more than 500 feet from any person, vessel or structure.

  • ||

    So IOW, they can ban use by those authorities they control (local) but they cannot stop the Feds from using them.

  • Hyperion||

    Yes, but just because they can fly a drone over the city, using the airspace, does that also give them the right to use it to spy on citizens, use any evidence found, in a court, or attack with the drone?

    I mean, just because a plane can fly over a city using the airspace, does that also give them a right to drop a bomb on the city?

  • ||

    Completely different from what the story indicates.

    Of course they don't have the right to drop a bomb on a city anymore than a manned military aircraft does.

    As far as spying on citizens goes, can the local fuzz set up a telescope on the next property over and film you loading stolen goods into your trunk while your car is sitting in your driveway? Of course he can. What's the diff?

    NOW, I'm all for placing restrictions on the use of new surveillance technology and what will be admissible in court. But a city can only make rules over that area it has jurisdiction over.

  • Almanian.||

    So Charlottesville, VA will be the first town in the continental US to be obliterated by drone strikes.

    As a lesson to the others.

    FORWARD!

  • Hyperion||

    Don't be silly. They won't obliterate the city. That's the beauty of drones.

    You see, the emperor can selectively eliminate those evil teabaggers, rednecks, and anarchist/libertarian types without harming the good liberals of the city.

    Then all of Charlottesville will live in a grand new utopia with rainbows and unicorns, and free ponies, abortions, and cell phones, for all.

  • Ron Bailey||

    A: District 12?

  • ||

    If it were obliterated, who would miss it?

    Disclaimer - I am a former resident of Charlottesville.

  • phandaal||

    Coming from somebody who was born and raised in C'ville, I can tell you all that it is not a haven of the Tea Party or anything else associated with the Right side of the political spectrum. C'ville is the kind of town that has a sister city in France and places art in random spots around the city, and it has a reputation for shady one-party governance.

    That being said, you know it's bad when a town like Charlottesville is "rising up" against encroachment by the government.

    Also, Ronald, have a Gus Burger for me.

  • DaveAnthony||

    I've lived in CVille for the past two years and while your description is completely accurate... there is actually a libertarian slant to the crazy when you actually talk to the people. I have found a very live and let live attitude that is often hidden behind the ERMAHGERD LIVING WAGE progressivism.

  • phandaal||

    That's true. C'ville has an interesting anarchist and libertarian undercurrent sometimes. For instance: the freedom of speech wall. I've got a family member who is very into that wall as well as the other libertarian-ish activities that take place around town.

    I'll tell you, though, that the outrage over infringements to personal liberty was WAY more pronounced between 2000-2008 than it is today.

  • AnthonyBrown||

    Along with the protection, there are few privacy related issues with drones. Several experts say it kills civilians privacy rights and there may be a chance of utilizing this drone technology in wrong way like it will help robbers to find valuable items at our homes. Here are few important materials that will help us to protect our items - http://www.rosebudmag.com/grow.....-grow-gear

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement