A Missouri bill to strictly limit drone use passed out of the state House on Monday by a vote of 109-44. It now moves on to the Senate for consideration.
HB1204, the “Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act,” would ban law enforcement agencies in Missouri from using a “drone or other unmanned aircraft to gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a statute or regulation except to the extent authorized in a warrant.”
Information obtained in violation of the act would be inadmissible as evidence in “a criminal proceeding in any court of law in the state or in an administrative hearing.” Sovereign immunity would also be waived for such violations, meaning the state could be sued by individuals to recover damages.
The legislation fully prohibits drone use by government with just a few exceptions. These include a duly issued warrant and emergency situations such as fires and search and rescue operations. In short, daily, general use of drones by government in Missouri would be stopped.
Not only does the bill directly prohibit law enforcement in the state from flying drones over Missouri, it would also serve to put the brakes on more general federal plans to expand drone use across the U.S.
In fact, 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 goal? Fund a network of drones around the country and put the operational burden on the states. Once they create a web over the whole country, DHS steps in with requests for ‘information sharing.’ Bills like these put a dent in this kind of long-term strategy. Without the states and local communities operating the drones today, it’s going to be nearly impossible for DHS plans to – take off.
LEGISLATION AND TRACKING