Washington is joining many other states in the fight over unmanned aerial vehicles. As the public grows more concerned over their possible use, state reps are responding by creating legislation to deal with the potential privacy violations that could ensue.

HB 1771, was introduced earlier this month by Representative David Taylor. It has 19 co-sponsors, including both democrats and republicans. The intention of the bill is to protect Washington citizens from warrantless surveillance, reduce liability, and create clear standards under which unmanned aerial vehicles may be utilized by various agencies.

The bill not only speaks to the procurement of drones, but also deals with the kind of information that will be collected, and what can be done with it. “All operations of a public unmanned aircraft system or disclosure of personal information about any person acquired through the operation of a public unmanned aircraft system shall be conducted in such a way as to minimize the collection and disclosure of personal information not authorized under this chapter.”
It goes on to list personal information as including a broad spectrum of things, such as anything that describes, locates or indexes anything about a person (licenses, identification numbers, tax returns, intellectual property etc.), and anything that affords a basis for inferring personal characteristics ( registration and membership in organizations, finger and voice prints, etc.)

The bill makes it unlawful to operate a UAV or disclose personal information, unless it is specifically authorized. Which basically means that you need probable cause, and a very specific warrant. No information accidentally collected about your neighbors during the process, can be used against them either.

“Each petition for a warrant from a judicial officer to permit the use of a public unmanned aircraft system and information collected from such operation shall be made in writing, upon oath or affirmation, to a judicial officer in a court of competent jurisdiction for the geographic area in which a public unmanned aircraft system is to be operated or where there is probable cause, supported by affidavit, particularly describing the place, property, things, or persons to be inspected, tested, or information collected and the purpose for which the inspection, testing, or collection of information is to be made.”

“No personal information collected on an individual or area other than the target that justified the issuance of a search warrant may be used, copied, or disclosed for any purpose. Such personal information shall be deleted as soon as possible, and in no event later than twenty-four hours after collection.”

Hopefully this detailed bill will go a long way toward ensuring the privacy of Washington residents, and discouraging the collection of information that will not be relevant or admissible in court.

HB 1771 was referred to the house Public Safety Committee and has a tentative hearing scheduled, though the time has not been confirmed.


If you live in Washington, please contact the members of the Public Safety Committee, and urge them to support this bill.

Follow that up by contacting your legislators, and asking them to support the bill when it comes to the floor. You can find their information here.


If you’re outside of these two states, please contact your own legislators regarding anti-NDAA legislation. If none has been introduced in your state, you can email them The Privacy Protection Act model legislation.

Track the status of drone nullification in states around the country HERE

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