A bill under consideration this year in the Maine State Legislature would restrict the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) by government officials, banning their use in surveillance by law enforcement without a warrant based on probable cause.
Introduced by State Rep Diane Russell and sponsored by State Sen Eric Brakey, Legislative Document 25 (LD25) would place a moratorium on all drone use, with the exception of emergency enforcement situations, until July 1, 2017. After that, it would provide strict restrictions and require law enforcement agencies to receive permission from the governing body overseeing them before acquiring or purchasing them.
According to the bill’s summary:
It prohibits a law enforcement agency from operating an unmanned aerial vehicle or collecting, disclosing or receiving information acquired through the operation of an unmanned aerial vehicle except pursuant to an emergency enforcement or administrative investigation exception, with the written consent of the person or property owner, pursuant to a warrant or pursuant to a court order.
The bill also creates a private right of action against a law enforcement agency for violations of the provisions of the bill.
It would also contain a significant provision prohibiting drones from using facial recognition technology being equipped with weapons except under limited circumstances.
Such prohibitions would bring nearly all nefarious use of drones by government agencies to an end in Maine.
Although drone use would still be permitted in specific circumstances, these bills set a nearly-total prohibition on their use in areas of great concern, warrantless surveillance.
Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey has noted that bills such as this have significant ramifications at the federal level because Washington D.C. is pushing and funding drone use at the state level. He noted that the federal government serves as the primary engine behind the expansion of drone surveillance carried out by states and local communities. The Department of Homeland Security issues large grants to local governments so they can purchase drones. “Those grants, in and of themselves, represent an unconstitutional expansion of power.”
“The feds want to push these on the states, and if the states refuse, it’ll foil their plan,” he said. “They already spy on Americans so much that Rand Paul said it numbered in the ‘Gazillions’ after a secret meeting with intelligence officials. If the feds can get the states to start buying up and running drones over our cities, they’ll certainly want access to all that surveillance information in the future. It’s important that states begin drawing a line in the sand now – no aerial spying here.”
“If enough states pass bills like these, it’ll foil their plans before they ever take off.”
For Maine: To support this bill, follow the steps at THIS LINK
All Other States: Take steps to stop warrantless drone spying HERE.
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