The Preserving Privacy Act of 2013, introduced into the North Carolina General Assembly by Representative Setzer, regulates the usage of drones strictly for the purpose of conducting warranted searches.

The introduction of this bill is rather timely in light of the increased scrutiny on drones after Rand Paul’s Senate filibuster.

“It shall be unlawful for any person or municipal, county, or State law enforcement agency to use a drone for the purpose of gathering evidence or other information or data pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a statute or rule,” subsection (b) of the bill reads. “A person or municipal, county, or State law enforcement agency may use a drone for purposes other than gathering evidence or other information or data pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a statute or rule, but any information or data acquired from the use of the drone shall not be disclosed and shall be inadmissible in any criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding.”

If a drone is needed to prevent imminent harm to life, serious damage to property, or the imminent escape of a suspect, H.B. 312 exempts from regulation any municipal, county, or state law enforcement agency with authorization from a search warrant.

The bill requires that:

“No later than 48 hours after the date on which a municipal, county, or State law enforcement agency uses a drone to conduct a search, a supervisory official with the law enforcement agency shall file a sworn statement with the clerk of court in the county in which the drone was used setting forth the information required in sub-subdivision a. of this subdivision.”

H.B. 312 was filed March 13 and  has 13 co-sponsors. No further action has been specified by the legislature.

At this stage in the ‘drone game,’ the feds are working hard behind the scenes to get states to operate the drones for them. They are also funding “private” research at state universities. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security issues large grants to state and local governments so that those agencies can purchase drones. The goal? Fund a network of drones around the country, placing the operational burden on the states. In the long run, DHS officials know they will be able to tap into the domestic drone program through “information sharing.”

I dislike the Orwellian concept of drones being used by government to spy on citizens but science and technology moves forward regardless and in some cases in stark contrast to our wishes and our rights protected by our state and federal Constitutions. Regardless drones are here to stay so we must put limits on their use and bind law enforcement down with the protections guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, I am glad that this bill was introduced but I feel that it still needs to be tightened up with stronger language and stiffer penalties so that the citizens of this states can “be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” said William Kennedy, a North Carolina Tenth Amendment Center chapter head.

Action items

1. Contact your representative. Click here to contact the North Carolina legislator and urge them to support H.B. 312. Be sure that you contact Rep. Setzer and thank him for introducing this bill.

2. Encourage your local community to take action as well. Present the Privacy Protection Act to your city county, your town council, or your county commissioners. Various local governments around the country are already passing similar resolutions and ordinances. Local legislative action present a great way to strengthen a statewide campaign against warrantless drone surveillance.

model legislation 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.


If you’re outside of North Carolina, please contact your own legislators regarding anti-drone 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

Alec Scheer

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