Add New Jersey to the long list of states opposing drone operations within their borders. Drone surveillance activity using unmanned aerial vehicles or “UAVs” has become an urgent issue threatening the right to privacy, recognized by the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.
Anti-drone legislation recently introduced by Assemblywoman Quijano (D) and co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Handlin (R), A3929 begins its journey with bi-partisan support.
The bill prohibits the use drones in New Jersey with a few exceptions.
No State, local, or interstate law enforcement agency or officer shall utilize an unmanned aerial vehicle to conduct surveillance or to gather any evidence or engage in any other law enforcement activity within this State.
The legislation does allow for drone use if the Department of Homeland Security determines it “is necessary to counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization,” or for reconnaissance during a natural disaster or declared emergency.
A3929 prohibits prosecutors from using evidence collected by drone surveillance in court and allows a person victimized by drone spying to seek damages in Superior Court.
Tenth Amendment Center executive director Micheal Boldin called the bill extremely strong, noting that even with the exceptions, the law would eliminate most drone use in New Jersey skies.
“Police are totally banned from using drones entirely, except in those specified, very limited situations, which are rare and already the status quo. Most states considering limits on drones are considering lesser bills that allow drone use on warrants issued under any situation,” he said. “Consider this: at a recent hearing on a bill in another state, a major drone lobbyist told the committee that ‘with these requirements for warrants and reporting, there won’t be any drones…’ He then proceeded to explain how not having a drone ‘parked over your children’s school’ would leave them open to dangerous attack by possible mass murderers wandering the streets. Ridiculous. These limits will work and they are needed.
A3929 was introduced on March 14 and referred to the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee.
1. Contact Committee members. If you live in New Jersey, contact members of the Assembly Homeland Security and State Preparedness Committee and ask them to pass A3939 on to the full Assembly for consideration. You can find committee contact information HERE.
2. Contact your assemblyperson: Contact your own representative and urge them to limit the use of drones in New Jersey. You can find Assembly member contact information HERE.
3. Encourage your local community to take action as well. Using model legislation from the Tenth Amendment Center, you can introduce legislation to nullify Drones in your city, town, and county with the Privacy Protection Act .
Model legislation here: http://tenthamendmentcenter.com/legislation/privacy-protection-act/
4. Share this information widely. Please pass this along to your friends and family. Also share it with any and all grassroots groups you’re in contact with around the state. Please encourage them to email this information to their members and supporters.
While the bill only limits drone use by state and local government, it will have some serious impact on intended results being pushed by the federal government. At this stage in the ‘drone game,’ the feds are working hard behind the scenes to get states to operate the drones for them.
In fact, the primary engine behind the expansion of drone surveillance being carried out by states and local communities is the Federal government itself. Department of Homeland Security issues large grants to local governments so that those agencies can purchase drones. Those grants, in and of themselves, are an unconstitutional expansion of power.
The goal? Fund a network of drones around the country and put the operational burden on the states. Once the create a web over the whole country, DHS steps in with requests for ‘information sharing.’ “Bills like these 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.”
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