Today, Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) introduced HR 6199 , the Preserving American Privacy Act. The bill seeks to ensure the privacy of American citizens by establishing specific guidelines about when and for what purposes law enforcement agencies and private individuals can use drones. The bill was introduced with 23 original co-sponsors.
The FAA will allow expanded use of drones nationwide by 2015. By 2020, an estimated 30,000 drones will be flying in American skies. Currently, no laws are in place to ensure that drones are not used in ways that infringe on the 4th Amendment rights of private individuals.
"As we enter this uncharted world of drone technology, Congress must be proactive and establish boundaries for drone use that safeguard the Constitutional rights of Americans," said Poe. "Individuals are rightfully concerned that these new eyes in the sky may threaten their privacy. It is the obligation of Congress to ensure that this does not happen. Just because Big Brother can look into someone's backyard doesn't mean it should. Technology may change, but the Constitution does not."
The "Preserving American Privacy Act" will:
· Prevent the FAA from issuing a permit for the use of a drone to fly in US airspace (for law enforcement purposes or for surveillance of a person or their property) unless it is pursuant to a warrant and in the investigation of a felony. This prohibition would be applicable to State, Federal, and local jurisdictions.
· Prevent the FAA from issuing a permit to any private individual for the use of a drone for surveillance of any private individual or their property unless the person under surveillance has consented or the owner of the property has consented.
· No evidence obtained from the use of a drone may be used at an administrative hearing.
· The warrant exceptions would be the same as those that are applicable in the state, federal, or local jurisdiction where the surveillance occurs.
· The bill would not change the permissible uses for border security purposes.