Efforts in Two Jurisdictions Target UAV Use

Drones’ surveillance capabilities cited as reason to prevent their use
Publish date:
Updated on

A city in Virginia has become the first U.S. municipality to pass anti-drone legislation while police in Florida are urging state lawmakers to amend a statewide anti-drone bill allowing the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in specific circumstances.
On Feb. 4, 2013 Charlottesville, Va., about 50 miles northwest of Richmond, became the first U.S. city to pass anti-drone legislation banning UAVs used by police and the military from passing over the city’s airspace, as well as preventing any city agency from acquiring drones.
Charlottesville's resolution urges the U.S. and Virginia governments “to adopt legislation prohibiting the use of drones for surveillance, and prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a federal or state court.”
In addition to being used to conduct surveillance, the resolution lists 12 reasons for banning drones. Some of the reasons are:

  • Drones can be used to film individuals or groups around the clock, in public spaces and through the windows of private homes, and to continuously monitor cell-phone test messaging.
  • Drones are being developed that will use computerized facial images to target individuals and, once launched, to operate autonomously, without further human involvement, to locate and kill those individuals.
  • The rapid implementation of drone technology throughout the United States poses a serious threat to the privacy and constitutional rights of the American people, including the residents of Charlottesville.
  • Police departments throughout the country have begun implementing drone technology absent any guidelines from lawmakers.

Charlottesville’s Council approved the resolution 3-2.
In Florida, police want a state bill that would limit law enforcement’s use of UAVs to include an exception for crowd control, but State Sen. Joe Negron, R, who introduced the proposed “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act” (S 0092), has said he would vote against the bill if a crowd control exception is added.
Negron’s bill—which is in the Senate Judiciary Committee—would prohibit law enforcement agencies from using drones to gather evidence or other information, and from presenting any such evidence in a Florida court.
The bill would also enable “an aggrieved party” to file a lawsuit “to prevent or remedy a violation of the act.”
The bill does provide exceptions for the use of UAVs in cases of terrorism, or when a search warrant is authorized and when a citizen is in “imminent danger,” such as to locate a missing child.
Click here to read Negron’s bill.