Republican Paul Wesselhoft, Oklahoma House of Representatives, has introduced HB 1556 [Oklahoma Unmanned Aerial Surveillance Act] and it will be Referred to Committee when the legislature convene’s Feb. 4, 2013. This Bill targets the warrant-less use of unmanned aerial surveillance drones in the state of Oklahoma.
Oklahoma is part of a growing number of states to introduce similar legislation designed to thwart the ubiquitous onslaught against ‘the people’s right to privacy‘.
HB 1556 can be basically broken down into 3 categories:
 Section 3(A) - “it shall be unlawful to operate an unmanned aircraft system for or in connection to surveillance within the state.”
It then goes on to spell out the legal use of drones: 3B(1) a warrant has been issued; 3B(2) missing persons search; 3B(3) firefighting or other emergency services agency; 3B(4) anyone asking to be a surveillant; 3B(5) an innocuous use of drones in public lands or properties.
Any use of drones by law enforcement would require a warrant. Even the legal uses enumerated above would require sworn statements within 24 hours of use as to the grounds for and intent of said use. Additionally, HB 1556 has a few teeth for those who violate as well as those being violated. Violator’s are subject to misdemeanor penalties [$500-$5000 fine/up to 1 year in jail], and allows for an aggrieved party to pursue civil action with potential claims as high as $50,000 per violation.
THE REALLY GOOD
 Section 5(A) – “No person shall operate an unmanned aircraft system that contains, mounts, or possesses any lethal or nonlethal weapon or weapons system of any kind.” This would be a critical facet of HB 1556.
 And here’s the thud: Section 7 – “Nothing in the Oklahoma Unmanned Aerial Surveillance Act shall be construed to attempt to override or supersede applicable federal law.”
HB 1556 is 9 pages of poetic legalese that nears the cusp of perfectly protecting Oklahoman’s from these ‘privacy predators’ , but on the 9th page the good representative seems to be ceding it all back Washington DC. He references the “applicable federal law” but makes no mention as to the constitutionality of said ‘federal law’.
At this stage in the “drone game,” though, the feds are intent on getting states to operate the drones for them. In fact, DHS issues large grants to local governments so that those local agencies can purchase the drones. The goal? Fund a network of drones around the country and put the operational burden on the states. Once a web has been created over the full country, DHS would then step in with requests for “information sharing.”
Bills like HB1556 put a dent in this kind of long-term strategy. Without the states and local communities operating the drones today, it’s going to be nearly impossible for DHS plans to – take off.
And on the 1st day God said “let there be light; and there was light.” That was a magnificent beginning, but far from the end result. While Representative Wesselhoft’s efforts are extremely laudable, could it be that HB 1556 is just that; a beginning?
LEGISLATION AND TRACKING
If you live anywhere outside of Oklahoma, please contact your own legislators regarding anti-NDAA legislation. If none has been introduced in your state, you can email them The Privacy Protection Act model legislation.
Track the status of drone nullification in states around the country HERE
Please contact Representative Wesselhoft by clicking here – and lend him your support.
Contact your legislator in Oklahoma and urge them to support this bill as well. Find your legislator’s contact info at this link: http://www.oklegislature.gov/findmylegislature.aspx