Unmanned aircraft evidence bill passed

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By Brandi Jewett

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — A bill seeking to prohibit the submission of evidence gathered by an unmanned aircraft without a warrant passed Monday 74-19 in the North Dakota House.

House Bill 1328 will move on to the Senate for consideration. Local law enforcement and business leaders have spoken out against the bill.

Introduced by state Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, the bill also notes information obtained through the unmanned aircraft cannot be used as a means of getting a warrant.

An earlier version of the bill would have required law enforcement to obtain a warrant for surveillance or evidence collection using the devices.

Becker had previously said the bill is an effort to protect civil liberties.

It does exempt certain uses of unmanned aircraft including the patrol of national borders, response to weather-related catastrophe, some forms of research and circumstances when there is an “imminent danger to life or bodily harm.”

A previous bill seeking similar requirements was introduced in the 2011-2013 legislative session but failed to become law.

In addition to law enforcement, bill opponents include economic leaders.

Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp. Vice President Keith Lund testified against the bill on behalf of the Economic Development Association of North Dakota on Feb. 9. He said organizations are tracking states that have “limiting legislation that would potentially impact the development of UAS.”

“North Dakota is on the cusp of the emerging UAS industry,” he said. Lund said at the time that he had not seen any proposed amendments to the bill.

Bill requiring warrant for unmanned aircraft evidence passes