Texas Senate Passes Bill to Nullify Warrantless Drone Spying, 29-1

A bill has passed through the Texas State Senate that aims to protect the privacy of their residents from the police state by instituting strict limitations on the use of unmanned drones in surveillance by law enforcement.

Dubbed the ‘Texas Privacy Act’, H.B. 912 is an attempt to rein in potential abuses related to the rapidly-developing drone technology that has made its hands into the hands of government at the state and federal levels. The bill was originally authored by Rep. Gooden (R-District 4) and has amassed over 100 co-sponsors since it was introduced Feb. 1, showing vast and bipartisan support for stopping the government’s Orwellian takeover of our skies.

The House passed the bill by a vote of 128-11 on May 10th. (roll call here)  And last Friday the Senate passed a slightly amended version of the bill by a vote of 29-1. (roll call here).  HB912 will now go back to the State House to either concur on the amendments or form a conference committee to approve a final version acceptable to both the House and Senate.  Then it’s off to Governor Perry’s desk for a signature.

BILL INFORMATION

The bill 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.

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.

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North Dakota Bill Would Protect People from Drone Spying

A bill introduced in the North Dakota State House of Representatives looks to protect the privacy of its residents from the police state by making a set of guidelines for the use of unmanned drones in surveillance by law enforcement.

House Bill 1373 was introduced by Reps. Becker, Anderson, Beadle, Heilman, Hofstad, Monson, Rohr, Toman, Hanson and Sen. Sitte. It was first read on Jan. 21 and referred to the Judiciary Committee where no action has presently been taken.

The bill comes in response to the growing national concern over predator drones, the controversial machines used to drop bombs onto people in foreign lands, coming to American skies en masse. Public safety concerns abound after repeated instances of crashes both domestic and abroad. Another troubling bit of information is that the Air Force maintains the right to spy on and collect data from drone missions about American citizens without so much as a warrant for up to 90 days as long as they claim it wasn’t intentional.

The text of HB 1373 states that “except as provided in section 4 of this Act, a law enforcement agency may not use an unmanned aircraft for surveillance of a person within the state or for the surveillance of personal or business property located within the borders of the state to gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct.” Section 4 of the Act gives law enforcement the right to use drones for weather-related catastrophes, exigent circumstances requiring reasonable suspecion to prevent immediate danger to life or bodily harm and national border patrol.

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Police State Clashes with Protesters in Chicago

With the recent outburst of Police-State action in Chicago, while we’d hoped it wouldn’t come to this – we can’t say we didn’t know it was coming. With images coming not out of Iran or Egypt, but out of some of the Tenther communities own back yard, we’re witnessing a literal army of state and federal funded police, in riot gear bloodying faces, shoving people – and according to some reports – even running people over. So it’s understandable that the Liberty community is a little apprehensive that what we’re witnessing isn’t yet another exception to the rule – but a sign of things to come for every-day Americans in the near future.

And regardless of where Tenthers choose to stand on the Occupy movement, the escalating action on the part of the local, State and Federal Government is certainly worthy of condemnation in regards to obvious first-amendment Constitutional violations. Besides, with the majority of the protestors remaining peaceful, there’s only been a select number acting with violent intent – who according to Bernie LaForest, member of the Tenther Community, stated was “mostly from the anarchist crowd from the G8 summits.”

This illustrates that with very little provocation (and in some cases none at all), our Government no longer seems interested in protecting our constitutional rights, but willing to reduce us to a “commodity” status where individual freedom has been reduced to a foot-note in the Fed’s 20 volume set of Red-Tape laws.

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