In the wake of the scope of government surveillance by Edward Snowden last June, state governments have taken the lead in restricting the rights of government entities to use electronic surveillance equipment on American soil.

Last month, an Illinois state legislator introduced bill to amend the state’s “Freedom from Drone Surveillance” law, restricting unlimited access by state law enforcement agencies to access information gathered by privately owned and operated drones.

As it stands, state agencies currently have two ways to potentially gather information via drones: the first and primary means would be by using the agency’s own drone technology; the second means is through hiring private third parties to gather information viz-a-viz drones.

The amendment clarifies that state agencies cannot direct or require third party drone operators to hand over information gathered from the drones. However, if a third party offers information to state agencies, the information gathered falls under the restrictions mentioned in the original law.

The text of the original law articulates and codifies the primary things the state agencies would survey (crime scenes, missing persons, etc.), how long the information gathered could be held (30 days unless there is an ongoing investigation or criminal trial), and the various restrictions placed on agencies such as the need to court warrants, etc. The original law did not specifically address the issue of third party drones, creating  a legal grey area as to whether state agencies can hire or collect information from outside groups. This amendment clarifies that grey area, further protecting the privacy rights of people in Illinois.


If you live in Illinois, click HERE for more information on limiting drones in your state.

If you live in another state, click HERE to learn more about anti-drone legislation.



Matthew Shoemaker

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