Americas AUVSI 2013

State Officials Argue at AUVSI for Ban on Warrantless UAV Surveillance

Alaska LtGovernor Treadwell_web

Dee Ann Divis

Three key associations of state officials are recommending that states pass legislation banning the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for surveillance unless the person being tracked has given permission or a warrant has been issued.

The associations also recommended banning UAVs from carrying weapons and emphasizing in state laws that both UAVs and their smaller cousins, model aircraft, be operated in ways that do not “present a nuisance to people or property.”

“Because this technology can use a variety of sensors, and some can potentially loiter for long periods of time without detection, there is concern that government can use these systems to monitor individuals in a way that was not imaged in the Supreme Court 4th Amendment rulings based on the presumption of privacy,” the associations said in a prepared statement.

The prohibition against tracking goes beyond just watching where someone goes, Alaska Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell told reporters at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI Unmanned Systems 2013) conference in Washington on Tuesday (August 13, 2013).

“I think in this instance we’re talking not just about the optical collection of data but collection of data say from picking up WiFi signals or picking up telephone signals and that sort of thing,” said Treadwell, who chairs one of the three groups, the Aerospace States Association (ASA). “One of the unique and new characteristics of UAV technology is its capability for persistence — and with persistence you can . . . collect lots of information. Though if you are collecting it about an individual without their consent, we are saying you need a warrant.”

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