Drone regulation in Tennessee moved a step closer to reality this week.

Both the House and Senate versions of the Freedom of Unwarranted Surveillance Act moves forward in Tennessee out of their respective committees. SB796 unanimously passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee 9-0.  The House Civil Justice Committee recommended passage of HB591 if amended.

The bill prohibits the use of drones  by law enforcement agencies in Tennessee only under the following circumstances.

– Toe counter the high risk of terrorist attack by a specific person or organization.
– With a search warrant signed by a judge authorizing the use of a drone.
– With evidence of reasonable suspicion that there is an immediate threat such that “swift action is needed to prevent imminent danger to life.

The proposed amendments add two more exceptions for drone use.

– Ariel coverage when searching for a fugitive, escapee or monitoring a hostage situation

– In a search for a missing person

The SB796 committee hearing can be viewed HERE.   The HB591 hearing can be viewed HERE.

While this legislation would not completely stop drone activity in Tennessee, it does set up boundaries and strict limits on surveillance using remotely controlled aircraft.  If the legislation fails to pass, law enforcement will have the authority to utilize drones anytime, anywhere. These bills  also lay a foundation upon which to build more stringent regulation and protections for Tennesseans.

Action Items

Call your senator and tell them to vote YES on SB796. Senator contact information is HERE.

Call your house representative and tell them to vote YES on HB591. Representative contact information is HERE.

Also, Tennessee residents can organize and keep up to date with bills going through the legislature by like the Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center HERE.

If you are not a Tennessee resident, and would like to uphold the safeguards of privacy and nullify unwarranted surveillance, introduce model legislation of the Privacy Protection Act in your state, city or town counsel. See the Tenth Amendment Center’s model legislation page HERE.

Kelli Sladick

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