Today, an Indiana state house committee gave preliminary approval to a bill which would severely restrict the use of drones within the state.
Introduced by Rep. Eric Allan Koch (R-65), House Bill 1009 (HB1009) “Prohibits the use of unmanned aerial vehicles and tracking devices to conduct warrantless searches,” with very limited exceptions.
HB1009 was referred to the State House Committee on Courts and Criminal Code where a hearing was held this morning. After a short discussion, the bill passed by a vote of 6-1. Voting yes were committee chair, Rep. Jud McMillin (R-68), along with Reps. Pierce, McNamara, Harman, Mahan and Rhoads. The lone no vote was cast by Rep. DeLaney (D-86).
The legislation does include some narrow exceptions to the warrant requirement to allay the fears of law enforcement officials who did not want to be hamstrung in emergency situations when a drone’s use might spell life or death.
Even so, the bill also sets strict standards governing the use of a drone when authorized. It also “prohibits the placement of cameras or electronic surveillance equipment on private property to conduct warrantless searches.” Evidence obtained in violation of the act would be “inadmissable as evidence in an administrative or judicial proceeding.”
The ACLU has weighed in on the issue on a national level, warning that “unregulated drone use could pose serious threats to our privacy.”
Tenth Amendment Center national outreach director Amanda Bowers noted that Indiana could join a growing chorus of states putting strict limited on drones. “Already, a number of states have passed similar bills into law, and we are expecting more in the coming weeks and months,” she said. “From California to Washington State, and from New York to Missouri, legislators and the general public from left to right want to see a dangerous future stopped before it happens.”
Bills were signed into law in 2013 in Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Last earlier this month, the South Carolina House passed a similar bill by a vote of 100-0.
HB1009 is expected to move to the full State House for a debate and vote. If it passes by a majority, it will be sent to the Senate, where it will need to pass out of committee before the Senate can vote to concur.