States Push for Domestic Drone Regulation

At least 40 states are pushing for regulations that would enact stricter requirements for law enforcement to use drones inside the United States. One example is in Ohio, where Ohio Rep. Rex Damschroder (R-District 88) has proposed legislation that would require law enforcement agencies to obtain search warrants before using drones to surveil on citizens.

From the Associated Press

"Right now police can't come into your house without a search warrant," said Ohio Rep. Rex Damschroder, who has proposed drone regulations. "But with drones, they can come right over your backyard and take pictures."

Damschroder's proposed bill would prohibit law enforcement agencies from using drones to get evidence or other information without a search warrant. Exceptions would include credible risks of terrorist attacks or the need for swift action to prevent imminent harm to life or property or to prevent suspects from escaping or destroying evidence.

The Republican said he isn't against drones but worries they could threaten constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

"I don't want the government just going up and down every street snooping," Damschroder said.

Rep. Damschroder's bill would restrict law enforcement's ability to use drones with a few exceptions:

  • The U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security has determined it could prevent a terrorist attack;
  • The police agency has gotten a search warrant from a judge;
  • If there’s a “reasonable suspicion” the drone’s use will prevent “imminent harm.”

The bill's fate is still uncertain–the Ohio House Speaker declined comment on whether it might pass. But drone limits are not unique to Ohio. The AP notes that Florida, Idaho, Montana, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia have all enacted drone legislation. (The ACLU has a comprehensive breakdown of domestic drone policy details here.)

Several other states are considering similar legislation as the drone technology becomes more populized among law enforcement agencies. This February, the Federal Aviation Administration reported that it had approved more than 1,400 requests for drone use since 2006 to over 80 law enforcement agencies.

The efforts to limit drone use have opposition from law enforcement hardliners and–the people who make the drones.

[The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International] wants guidelines covering manned aircraft applied to unmanned aircraft.

"We don't support rewriting existing search warrant requirements under the guise of privacy," said Mario Mairena, government relations manager for the Arlington, Va.-based Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

The association predicts unmanned aircraft systems will generate billions of dollars in economic impact in the next few years and says privacy concerns are unwarranted.

But the movement against drones won't go down without a fight. The town of Deer Trail, Colorado plans to vote on an ordinance that would issue "drone hunting licenses" at $25 a pop, according to CBS News. Phillip Steel, a Deer Trail resident who proposed the ordinance, says, "if you don't want your drone to go down, don't fly in town. That's our motto."

The mayor, Frank Fields, agrees. "Using it against terrorists is okay, but we don't need to be usining it in our little town, peeking in windows," he said. Fields told CBS that 157 people have signed up to get the licenses already, and the town plans to offer a cash bounty for pieces of shot down drones. 

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.

  • Hyperion||

    Is this the late nite links that we all hoped for?

    "I don't want the government just going up and down every street snooping," Damschroder said.

    Isn't it just a little too fucking late to hope for that now?

  • Nazdrakke||

    The bill's fate is still uncertain–the Ohio House Speaker declined comment on whether it might pass.

    Can't see why it shouldn't, it looks as if it has all the right authoritarian weasel words connected in all the right places.

  • Tman||

    In not so many words, it says "fuck you citizen, that's why".

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    "Obama says it is time to wind down Fannie and Freddie"
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/.....e/2624767/

    Somehow Obama will manage to turn something that sounds like reducing government involvement in the economy in to another big government catastrophe. Oh, here it is:

    "he made it clear that he expects any legislation will spell out a limited government role for backing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the future, and that it must ensure Americans' continued access to a 30-year mortgage at a fixed interest rate"...

    "It's pretty simple: When more people buy homes, and play by the rules, home values go up for everybody,"

    Fucking fucking fuck.

  • Hyperion||

    Obamas very own H&R puppet, the ButtPig, posted that here yesterday, as indisputable proof that Obama is a pro-market guy through and through.

  • Tman||

    The fact that he "joked" about being a socialist was the most disgusting thing I've heard from him lately.

    And that's saying something.

  • Agammamon||

    " . . . or to prevent suspects from escaping or destroying evidence."

    That right there . . . That loophole right there destroys any protections drone regulations could have.

    Same as the exigent circumstances loophole destroyed protections from unreasonable searched.

  • Generic Stranger||

    The only legitimate use for drones by law enforcement is for search and rescue. That's it.

  • Nazdrakke||

    They will search for drug criminal terrorist illegal alien tax evaders and rescue us from their nefarious FBI orchestrated racist plans to aid the Patriarchy in overthrowing democracy and you will help us, civilian, and like it.

    For the Children.

  • StinkEye||

    A well rounded group of NSA trigger words

    ++1 thought crimes to you.... double plus good.

  • StinkEye||

    "The only legitimate use for drones by law enforcement is for search and rescue. That's it."

    Well... that, and gun platforms for subduing unruly crowds... and crop dusting frozen nerve agents over desperate, starving protestors...

  • Agammamon||

    Why would you *freeze* a nerve agent. They need to be aerosolized to be dispersed effectively and you're not going to do that in solid form.

  • StinkEye||

    It disperses as it thaws, but can be delivered more precisely in a frozen concentrate. Skin contact with droplets is sufficient, tainted surfaces, area denial afterwards...

  • Agammamon||

    Except that after it thaws it vaporizes and is carried on the wind. Not to mention that if you're throwing it out 'frozen' either you're throwing large chunks out or its powdered, in which case it disperses in the wind.

    You'd be better served simply by using a sprayer near your target and not trying to keep the stuff frozen at -57c.

    Area denial depends on the type - some of these agents aren't persistent, some are.

  • StinkEye||

    Freeze dried vapor/aerosol concentrate was my implied method, concentration was the purpose, desperate, starving protestors were the target, the {/sarc} tag I failed to utilize gave plausible deniability. I have never gassed anyone, it was based on something I had once read. Persistence does indeed vary, the blistering agents with stabilizers last months, but a nerve agent dispensed in such a way might only last a few days without rain...

  • Atanarjuat||

    I have never gassed anyone

    ...a dubious claim from someone whose name links to "cakefarts.com".

  • GroundTruth||

    Apparently, the only legitimate use for drones is actually to keep and eye on the cops and feds.

  • A Serious Man||

  • Hyperion||

    Damn, are the sheeples awakening?

    Check this out:

    New amber alert system annoys Commiefornians

    Wow, this is CBS, and check the comments. The majority of the comments could have come from... H&R. Are we trolling CBS SanFran, or are the sheeples finally awakening?

  • Hyperion||

    I liked this one:

    We need this to be more widely understood: A "problem" is, to the government, nothing but an excuse to spend money and build a bureaucratic empire. The one thing they will make sure to do is to NOT solve the problem. The problem is their paycheck, and they'll never let it go away

  • A Serious Man||

    I opted out of the Amber Alert system on my iPhone, but it sounds like it automatically uses a loud siren to get your attention regardless of what your notification tone is. That is pretty disturbing.

  • Luddite||

    "We don't support rewriting existing search warrant requirements under the guise of privacy," said Mario Mairena, government relations manager for the Arlington, Va.-based Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

    The association predicts unmanned aircraft systems will generate billions of dollars in economic impact in the next few years and says privacy concerns are unwarranted."

    In the happiest, most whistling-tune I can muster: "gooooooooooo fuckkkkkkkk yourselfffffff. do dee dooo dee dah."

  • Mario2013||

    The question is what would be considered a drone?

  • MappRapp||

    Thats some pretty scary stuff man, I mean like for real dude.

    www.Mega-Anon.tk

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