On July 29, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber (D) signed the Anti-Drone Spying bill (HB2710) into law.
The new law will require law enforcement to obtain a warrant for drone use in all but a few cases.
Provides that drones may be used by law enforcement agency for purpose of surveillance of persons only pursuant to a warrant or in emergency circumstances. Provides that law enforcement agencies may use drones to intercept communications only as provided under laws relating to wiretaps other interceptions of communications. Requires destruction of images and other information acquired by use of drone within 30 days.
The bill also outlaws weaponized drones.
Representative John Huffman (R ) said, “I feel that we were able to craft our bill to get ahead of the curve and ensure people’s rights were protected — but also to let Insitu and other companies in the industry know that we are willing to work with them.”
The House passed its version of the bill 52-7 on April 15. The Senate passed the amended version 23-5 on June 10th. The differences between the two bills were resolved in committee, and it was sent to the governor for his signature.
While the exceptions for drone use raise legitimate concerns, as things existed, Oregonians had no protections against drone surveillance. Law enforcement agencies in Oregon could use drones any time, anywhere, with absolutely no parameters. Under the new law, drone use will be extremely limited and circumscribed.
With the recent revelations about the NSA’s spying programs, the federal government has shown little concern about protecting our rights. We know that the Department of Homeland Security issues large grants to local government so they can purchase these drones.
What? No strings attached?
Of course, the DHS wants the information collected by the drones they subsidize to the local governments. Laws like this one are a means states can use to protect our rights by interposing themselves between us and the feds.
The Drone Game
At this stage in the ‘drone game,’ the feds are working hard behind the scenes to get states to operate the drones for them.
In fact, the primary engine behind the expansion of drone surveillance being carried out by states and local communities is the Federal government itself. The Department of Homeland Security issues large grants to local governments so that those agencies can purchase drones. Those grants, in and of themselves, are an unconstitutional expansion of power.
The goal? Fund a network of drones around the country and put the operational burden on the states. Once they create a web over the whole country, DHS steps in with requests for ‘information sharing.’ Bills like these put a dent in this kind of long-term strategy. Without the states and local communities operating the drones today, it’s going to be nearly impossible for DHS plans to – take off.
In fact, this has been as much as confirmed by a drone industry lobbyist who testified in opposition to a similar bill in Washington State, saying that such restrictions would be extremely destructive to the drone market and industry.