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States Throw Down over Use of Local Drones

09-08-2014
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Some are calling 2014 "the year of the drone" as privacy advocates and government agencies across the country gear up to battle over the use of local drones. More than 35 states are now considering drone legislation.

Law enforcement and governments are itching to use remote-controlled aircraft for everything from surveillance to search and rescue.

But privacy watchdogs are urging state legislatures to step in to head off any potential privacy violations.

The Minnesota legislature debated some of those privacy concerns Wednesday.

"Nobody wants to put a police officer in jeopardy or jeopardize a current investigation but we do want to protect people's privacy. And folks have an expectation of that dating back a couple hundred years," Minnesota Rep. Joe Atkins said.

Right now, California and Utah are looking at measures to require law enforcement to get a warrant before collecting data from the skies.

Utah state Sen. Howard Stephenson warned his colleagues about the privacy threat from drones by playing a video clip of George Orwell's "1984" in which a drone hovers and peers into windows.

"I don't think we want that type of thing happening in our society," he said. "It's a very frightening thing."

The Utah bill also prohibits non-government agencies or individuals from sharing drone images with law enforcement, except in emergencies.

In Rhode Island, lawmakers are considering legislation that requires law enforcement to hold public hearings before acquiring a drone.

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