SB0796/HB0591, or the “Freedom from Unwanted Surveillance Act,” has passed both the Senate and the House, but it is going back to the Senate Monday because of an overly vague and dangerous amendment added to the bill in the House. That amendment should be rejected and the bill passed in its previous form. (read on for details and action items)
Why is Amendment HA0452 Dangerous?
The House added amendment HA0452 to SB0796/HB0591 which adds a vague provision to the drone bill to allow the use of drones “To protect life and property during crowd monitoring situations.” Of course the amendment does nothing to define what should be considered a “crowd monitoring situation” which opens the bill up to vast misuse. So hypothetically state and local law enforcement could call anything they want “crowd monitoring” and use a drone.
Article 1 Section 7 of the Tennessee constitution doesn’t end with “well, unless you’re amongst a crowd.”
“That the people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions, from unreasonable searches and seizures; and that general warrants, whereby an officer may be commanded to search suspected places, without evidence of the fact committed, or to seize any person or persons not named, whose offences are not particularly described and supported by evidence, are dangerous to liberty and ought not to be granted.”
The Importance of the Freedom from Unwanted Surveillance Act
This drone bill is very important because there has been a great deal of concern in this country over the use of drones to spy on American citizens on U.S. soil with no warrant or other probable cause. The “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act” will address this issue. It will require any use of drone technology in the state of Tennessee to do one of the following:
- Provide credible risk of terrorist attack from the Secretary of Homeland Security,
- Provide a search warrant signed by a judge authorizing the use of a drone, or
- Provide evidence of reasonable suspicion that there is an immediate threat such that “swift action is needed to prevent imminent danger to life.”
- Monitoring hostage situations.
- Provide aerial coverage during fugitive searches or searches for missing persons.
There is also provision for aggrieved parties to file suit against done operators for civil damages and the bill also disallows the use in court of any evidence collected in violation of the bill.
Contact your Senators and tell them to oppose adopting amendment HA0452 and tell them to negotiate with the House to remove the amendment.
Contact Your Senator: If you do not know who your senator is, use the “Find My Legislator” tool on the Tennessee General Assembly web site. http://www.capitol.tn.gov/legislators/