The New Hampshire legislature will consider a bill in the 2014 session that would take big steps towards fully protecting residents and visitors from prying eyes in the sky.
Rep. Joe Duarte (R-Candia) has introduced HB 1361. If passed, the act would would prohibit the use of drones by law enforcement to gather evidence without a warrant over the Granite State in most cases.
The bill states that, in the absence of a search warrant, “no law enforcement agency shall use a drone for the purpose of obtaining evidence” and that “No evidence obtained in violation of this chapter shall be admissible in a criminal prosecution in any court in this state.”
The legislation also opens the door for civil suits by anybody whose privacy is violated by unauthorized drone use.
The act does make two exceptions allowing the use of drones by law enforcement without a warrant.
- “to counter a high risk of a terrorist attack” if the Department of Homeland Security determines such a threat to exist
- If law enforcement “possesses reasonable suspicion that…swift action is needed to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property…”
While some might find the exceptions troubling, it represents a huge improvement over the status quo. As it stands now, law enforcement can use drones in New Hampshire with absolutely no restrictions. This bill stop drone use without a warrant in most cases.
Tenth Amendment Center’s executive director Michael Boldin said that this kind of bill has significant ramifications at the federal level because Washington’s is pushing and funding drone use at the state level.
“The feds want to push these on the states, and if the states refuse, it’ll foil their plan,” he said. “They already spy on Americans so much that Rand Paul said it numbered in the ‘Gazillions’ after a secret meeting last fall. If the feds can get the states to start buying up and running drones over our cities, they’ll certainly want access to all that surveillance information in the future. It’s important that states begin drawing a line in the sand now – no aerial spying here.”
In fact, the federal government serves as the primary engine behind the expansion of drone surveillance carried out by states and local communities. The Department of Homeland Security issues large grants to local governments so they can purchase drones. Those grants, in and of themselves, represent an unconstitutional expansion of power.
The goal? Fund a network of drones around the country and put the operational burden on the states. Once they 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.
HB 1361 will be introduced on Jan. 8, 2014, and will be referred to the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee.
2. Contact your own representative and ask him or her to support this legislation. You can find legislator contact information HERE.
3. 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.
LEGISLATION AND TRACKING