[State Senator Dan] Claitor argued the new technology could result in the invasion of privacy. A number of media representatives, though, spoke against the bill, touting [the] usefulness of drones to report vital information to the public and law enforcement during natural disasters and other newsworthy events.The bill would have prohibited warrantless use of drones by law enforcement agencies, but there were numerous exceptions to this broad ban. And the bill would have restricted private use of drones to conduct surveillance on other people, but only if the specific intent of the drone user was to conduct surveillance on non-consenting third parties.
I think it's a shame that the bill failed. I blogged in more detail about the proposed drone law here. There, I noted that while the law was a bit cumbersome, the numerous exceptions to its otherwise broad prohibitions meant that the law could prevent the overly invasive use of drones, while still permitting their usage in many other situations.
Additionally, I think that the critics were right to point out that reporters' abilities to use drones may have been restricted by the law, but the bill provided many exceptions for use of drones by law enforcement officers. As I noted in my earlier post, law enforcement officers would still be able to use drones to survey recent accident scenes, and collect information with drones during states of emergency or in hot pursuit situations. So while critics pointing out limits on private parties may have a point, I don't think that these critics would be correct to label the bill as overly restrictive for law enforcement agencies.
With this bill's death, Louisiana joins North Dakota and other states that have refused to regulate drones. While Louisiana's drone bill will not become law, I hope that states considering drone restrictions take the bill into account as one of the better proposals for regulating this emerging technology.