The Vermont General Assembly will consider a “Drone Regulation Act” during the current legislative session.
Representative Kevin Christie sponsored House Bill 540, joined by 24 other patriots as cosponsors.
The bill would create a new chapter (205) to regulate drones in Vermont.
Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, a law enforcement agency shall not use a drone for any purpose or disclose or receive information acquired through the operation of a drone.
Upon a close look at the bill, we find a few points that are essential to the security of a free nation. The bill clearly supports the right to privacy and our expectations that our homes and persons should remain free from unreasonable, unauthorized and/or illegal searches.
Under the proposed law, the use of drones in Vermont will only be permitted by law enforcement agencies after obtaining a warrant, or under specific emergency circumstances. The Department of Public Safety, Municipal Police, Sheriff’s Department, Attorney General’s Office, The States Attorney’s office and the Capitol Police Department will be authorized to use drones, but will strictly be limited to use under specific conditions.
Drone operators must avoid data collection on any other person, home or area. Any data gathered that has not been authorized, cannot be used, copied, or disclosed for any purpose. This provision is important in protecting the private property rights of law abiding Vermont citizens.
The new bill further protects the rights of law abiding citizens by prohibiting the use of any facial or other biometric matching technology outside of authorized use. Any identity information of non-target surveillance cannot be admissible in any judicial or administrative proceeding. The law would further restrict the use of drones by prohibiting weapons.
Under emergency situations, law enforcement may use drones if there is an imminent threat of death or bodily injury to any person, providing the agency obtains a search warrant for the use of the drone within 48 hours. The law also brings another layer of accountability by requiring reports to be filed. These reports must include a listing of all warrants applied for and issued, including those that are denied. The reports must further list all arrests and convictions obtained through the use of drones. Any and all use of drones by private companies or individuals will be required to follow all federal aviation administration requirements and guidelines.
The first stop for the bill is with the “Rules committee” The representatives that serve on the rules committee are Representative Deen of Westminster, Representative Koch of Barre Town, Representative Komline of Dorset, Representative Jewett of Ripton, and Representative Turner of Milton.
1. Contact Rules Committee members. Vermont residents should contact these representatives today and ask them to support the bill as introduced.
2. Contact your own representative. Let him or her know you want limits placed on drones in Vermont.
You can find legislative 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.
Some object to the exceptions allowing drone use. But keep in mind, as now stands, law enforcement agencies in Vermont can deploy drones any place, any time, for any reason with no restrictions. Even with the exceptions, this legislation represents a giant step forward, prohibiting drone use in most cases.
While the state Privacy Protection Act applies to state and local law enforcement, and not federal drone us, it’s still a strong step forward to protect against federal plans for drone spying around the country. At this stage in the ‘drone game,’ the feds are relying almost solely to get states and local communities to start drone programs. Federal agencies 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.
In fact, this has been as much as confirmed by a drone industry lobbyist who testified in opposition to a similar bill in Washington State, saying that such restrictions would be extremely destructive to the drone market and industry.
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.