Today, Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) along with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-19) introduced H.R. 637, 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 FAA will allow expanded use of drones nationwide by 2015. By 2030, an estimated 30,000 drones could be flying in American skies. Currently, the laws regarding the use of drones are unclear and further legislation is needed to ensure 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 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) have both expressed their support of H.R. 637.
American Civil Liberties Union
"Unmanned drones must not become a perpetual presence in our lives, hovering over us, following us and recording our every move," said Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the ACLU. "Strict rules should govern the use of drones by the government. By requiring that law enforcement secure judicial approval before using drones, this legislation achieves the right balance for the use of these eyes in the sky."
Electronic Privacy Information Center
"Transparency and accountability are vital to the use of drones in the United States. EPIC has petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration to protect the privacy rights of individuals against increased drone use, but the Agency has failed to act. We support Congressman Poe's efforts to address this problem."
The "Preserving American Privacy Act":
Prohibits targeted surveillance of a individual or their property by law enforcement without a warrant.
oMandates transparency during the permitting process for public accountability.
Makes it unlawful for private individuals or law enforcement officers to use or operate an unmanned aircraft system that is armed with a firearm (includes explosives) in the national airspace of the United States.