By Shelby Sebens | Northwest Watchdog
PORTLAND – Two Oregon lawmakers have joined a national chorus of elected officials worried about the surge in drone use and its potential to invade your privacy.
The proposed legislation would aim to protect privacy when drones, a flying device capable of everything from capturing images on the ground or in the air to firing bullets, are used by law enforcement. The proposed laws would also restrict private drone use. State Rep. John Huffman, R- The Dalles, is pushing legislation on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.
The bill, according to ACLU Oregon, would advise law enforcement on how to protect privacy when using drones. In April, the Federal Aviation Administration gave approval to law enforcement agencies in the United States to use drones locally.
“Our bill will clarify that drones should never be used for indiscriminate mass surveillance of Oregonians, that any surveillance should be kept secure and destroyed promptly after it is no longer needed, and that domestic drones should never have the capability to carry or discharge weapons ,” the ACLU states on its website.
A proposed bill in the Senate, SB 71, would restrict the use of drones by both private and public entities. The bill would declare an “Airspace of Oregon” (space not already controlled by federal law) and restrict the use of drones in that space only to those who are permitted by the Oregon Department of Aviation or the federal government. The bill would take effect immediately if passed. It would also require public agencies using drones to register with the Department of the State Police.
The proposed Senate legislation doesn’t list a sponsor but the Oregonian reports state Sen. Floyd Prozanski , D-Eugene, is behind it. And the paper also reports the proposals are already drawing some opposition and could be facing a contentious battle.
Punishment for violation of the act ranges from a misdemeanor for anyone who gains unauthorized control over a drone to a felony for using a drone to hunt or stalk game, according to the bill.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle across the nation are looking at regulating drones over concerns about civilian privacy. Watchdog.org recently reported that in at least 13 states, lawmakers this year will examine bills to place strict limits on how government entities can deploy drones. No state has embedded such regulations into law.