AUSTIN, Texas – A Texas bill that would nullify warrantless drone spying gained final approval this week and now heads to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk for his signature.
HB912 would virtually eliminate all warrantless drone spying in the Lone Star State and criminalizes all drone use outside of carefully prescribed parameters.
The Texas Privacy Act states that “a person commits an offense if the person uses or authorizes the use of an unmanned vehicle or aircraft to capture an image without the express consent of the person who owns or lawfully occupies the real property captured in the image.” The offender would be charged with a Class C misdemeanor if they were caught violating this part of the law.
The bill then outlines acceptable application of drones, including pursuant to a criminal warrant.
Data gathered by law enforcement illegally ‘may not be used as evidence in any criminal or juvenile proceeding, civil action, or administrative proceeding’ according to the bill and ‘is not subject to discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal compulsion for its release.’ This incentivizes police to not misuse the drone technology unless they wish to risk jeopardizing their entire investigation.
House passed the bill by a vote of 128-11 on May 10, and the Senate gave a slightly amended version its approval 29-1 a week later. HB912 then went to a conference committee and both chambers approved the final version.Details