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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Restricting Drones' Intrusions on Privacy: Two Possible Approaches

The AP reports (via

Two bills that would restrict the use of drones and government surveillance in Washington state have been passed by the House.

House Bill 2178 passed by a vote of 92-6 Monday. It would ban the unauthorized use of drones, or other unmanned aircraft with sensing devices, in the airspace above private property. Under the measure, drones, which could include those capable of gathering personal information such as photos, could be used on private property if certain conditions were met.
Rising use of drones by private individuals has inspired fears that these drones will end up invading people's privacy. Moreover, there is a danger that airborne drones may end up crashing and injuring people on the ground. This law seems to be a reasonable way of avoiding some of these common concerns. This law is all the more appealing to those concerned with privacy because it is paired with a bill restricting public use of drones.

Compare Washington's law to Hawaii's proposed law (SB 2608) that would limit the use of drones to law enforcement agencies. Hobbyists are concerned that this law would constrain a great deal of harmless drone use.

Drones raise the prospect of privacy invasions by both public and private actors. I think that Washington's approach is a preferable way to meet these concerns rather than Hawaii's overbroad, law enforcement-centered proposal.

(H/T The Drone Times)

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