U.S. Representative Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo) joined 22 of her colleagues in introducing H.R. 6199, the Preserving American Privacy Act, which is designed to protect individual citizens' privacy from the increasing domestic use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), or drones. Already deployed on the battlefield and along our nation's borders, drones are now being used domestically by private and governmental entities. H.R. 6199 would: prohibit drone surveillance without a warrant; prohibit drone surveillance by private entities without the subject's consent; and, prohibit agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency from using drone-collected surveillance in administrative hearings.
"This is another instance of new technology challenging our constitutional rights, and the Constitution should always win," Rep. Lummis said. "Drones are and will continue to be a great tool for our military and Border Patrol. But drones also dramatically enhance the government's ability to spy on Americans, so we need to set a privacy standard to prevent unauthorized drone flights over our backyards. H.R. 6199 strikes a balance between law enforcement and individual freedom that I believe is consistent with the Constitution."
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) currently grants permits for limited drone use on a case-by-case basis. Numerous domestic federal agencies (including the EPA), research institutions and state and local law enforcement currently have active permits. The FAA is also working towards the wholesale integration of drones into United States airspace by 2015.
The Preserving American Privacy Act would:
* Prohibit the FAA from issuing a drone permit for law enforcement or surveillance purposes unless the activity is pursuant to a warrant and in the investigation of a felony. This prohibition would be applicable to State, Federal, and local jurisdictions.
* Prohibit the FAA from issuing a drone permit to any private individual for person or property surveillance unless the person under surveillance has consented or the owner of the property has consented.
* Prohibit evidence obtained by drones from being used by federal agencies in administrative hearings.
* Preserve the current use of drones for border security purposes and within 25 miles of a United States border.