Legislation has been introduced in the West Virginia House of Representatives that would regulate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to protect the privacy rights of citizens.
House Bill 2732 known as the Freedom From Unwarranted Surveillance Act was introduced by Joshua Nelson (R-Boone) earlier this month and has already amassed 10 co-sponsors. The bill states that “a law-enforcement agency may not use a drone to gather evidence or other information” unless a proper search warrant has been issued and that “no drone operated within the State of West Virginia may carry a lethal payload.”
However, H.B. 2732 does allow for drones to be used in special circumstances determined by the Department of Homeland Security. This means there is potential for abuses. This bill does constitute a step in the right direction though because it provides some limits on what the government can do with the rapidly developing and potentially hazardous drone technology.
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 West Virginia with absolutely no restrictions. This bill stop drone use without a warrant in most cases.
The federal government wants to have drones in the skies peering down on you at all times. It has even been estimated that 30,000 drones could be in the air by 2020. If we do not take action now, our rights could be lost permanently.
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.
That is why we have our model legislation, the Privacy Protection Act available for you to take to your local and state government officials and demand that they take action to protect your freedoms.
In West Virginia, take action to support HB 2732. HERE.
All other states, take action against warrantless drone spying HERE