Drone use, restrictions now on radar of many state legislatures

Stateline Midwest ~ March 2013

As part of what the American Civil Liberties Union calls “an unprecedented surge of activity” to address the domestic use of drones, legislators in three Midwestern states were considering new privacy protections as of late February.

As part of what the American Civil Liberties Union calls “an unprecedented surge of activity” to address the domestic use of drones, legislators in three Midwestern states were considering new privacy protections as of late February. In all, bills in at least 20 U.S. states — including Illinois, Nebraska and North Dakota — had been introduced early in 2013. Most of these measures would require law enforcement to obtain a probable-cause warrant before deploying an unmanned aircraft for surveillance. Moratoria have been proposed in Montana and Virginia, the ACLU reports. 

The North Dakota House passed HB 1373 in February. According to The Bismarck Tribune, the bill aims to remove “gray area” in state law regarding when and how drones are used. 
Along with the probable-cause requirement, the North Dakota measure would ban all drones with weapons. The state would also be prohibited from authorizing “one private person to conduct surveillance on any other private person.” A third restriction ensures that surveillance is not conducted on people exercising their constitutional rights of freedom of speech and assembly. HB 1373 allows for the use of drones within 25 miles of the U.S.-Canada border and in certain emergency situations.
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