Lawmakers Target Drones With “Preserving American Privacy Act Of 2013”

Across the country, lawmakers are trying to figure out what to do about those pesky private unmanned aerial vehicles.

Lawmakers Target Drones With “Preserving American Privacy Act Of 2013”

New draft legislation in the House of Representatives is attempting to restrict the private use of drones, making it a misdemeanor to use a UAV to photograph a person or their property without their explicit permission.

Public space use would be equally limited, according to the “Preserving American Privacy Act of 2013” (PDF), requiring a max altitude of just six feet. Law enforcement bodies would have to obtain a warrant or court order to be able collect information on individuals in a private area. And it bans the use of armed drones in U.S. airspace–which clarifies the debate on targeting U.S. citizens.

Several states are already grappling with how law enforcement should be able to use drones. Charlottesville, VA., passed a law banning drones from its airspace earlier this month. Florida lawmakers are proposing that drone use would have to be authorized by the Department of Homeland Security. The American Civil Liberties Union generally supports such legislation because governments could use drones for domestic surveillance, which raises a host of privacy issues.

The proposed bill also addresses the extraordinarily fast development of drones for private use. UAVs were the privilege of government bodies until very recently but have become popular tools for entertainment and fun and have become increasingly popular among local police departments.

It’s inevitable that laws to restrict private UAVs will happen but given that there are already privacy laws, do you agree with this new push? Isn’t it a bit dangerous to limit drones to head-chopping height?

[Image: Flickr user faceme]

About the author

I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise.