Saturday, February 9, 2013

HB 1616 or 2012: Restricting Use of Drones

Somebody out there was searching for supporters of Virginia House Bill 1616, Delegate Gilbert's proposal to restrict the use of unmanned drone aircraft for domestic surveillance in Virginia. Trick question. HB 1616 was incorporated into Delegate Cline's HB 2012.

Differences? HB 1616 was a long, detailed bill specifying conditions under which drones could be used--to search for lost children, e.g. HB 2012 is a short, simple bill specifying that drones can't be used for another two years, period, except "when an Amber Alert is activated pursuant to § 52-34.3, when a Senior Alert is activated pursuant to § 52-34.6, when a Blue Alert is activated pursuant to §52-34.9, or for the purpose of a search and rescue operation. In no case may a weaponized unmanned aircraft system be deployed or its use facilitated by a state or local agency in Virginia."

Some contributors to this web site seem to feel more passionate about drones than I do, but I'll agree that using drones for domestic surveillance in peacetime, anywhere, is unethical and unconstitutional (search without a warrant) and generally icky, and any legislation that discourages this icky idea is good.