SALEM – Some state lawmakers are crafting legislation to govern the way unmanned flying craft, or drones, are used in Oregon.
They say as domestic drone use increases, so do concerns over both private citizens and public agencies like police using them in a way that infringes on a person’s right to privacy.
“I think we all expect and want to be safe within our houses and not having unlawful searches, and so we need to make certain we have safeguards for the public body such as law enforcement and for individuals,” said Senator Floyd Prozanski (D) Eugene.
The American Civil Liberties Union agrees, saying that lawmakers need to get ahead of a trend of increasing domestic drone use.
“Oregon is not, and should never be, a surveillance society," said Becky Straus, the ACLU of Oregon’s Legislative Director. "We should never use our technology to mass survey people without any suspicion of wrongdoing.”
Many Oregonians agreed that privacy rights should be protected by making it illegal to fly over their property and look down on them, or record activity, in the case of police, without a warrant.
But some remote control aircraft enthusiasts who fly by using cameras say the legislation would make them criminals for not being registered.
Prozanski says Senate Bill 71 is broad now, but may be amended to address such concerns.
But the legislator cites an FAA report that more than 30,000 drones may fly in U.S. skies by 2020, as a reason to create safeguards now.
“If we don’t deal with it now, we’re going to have a headache to be dealing with then.”
Another similar bill related to governing drones, House Bill 2710, is also being considered in Salem.