State Rep. John Boccieri (D-Poland) today announced his support for a recently introduced bipartisan measure to restrict the use of drones by law enforcement entities without proper authorization. Senate Bill 251 would set standards that protect the privacy and safety of the public during investigations that rely on drones. With drone use continuing to skyrocket, Boccieri says such standards are becoming increasingly necessary, especially around airports where drones pose significant threats to air safety.

"There are many concerns regarding the safe use of drones around commercial and military aircraft, and around airports. Now we must ensure proper safeguards are in place to protect privacy rights,” Rep. Boccieri said. “This measure ensures that law enforcement follow procedures to protect privacy and avoid abuse. It seems like a commonsense balance between privacy and enforcement."

The legislation would prohibit the use of armed drones and requires police to obtain a search warrant before using a drone for criminal information-gathering. However, if someone is in immediate danger or a missing person needs to be located quickly, the bill waives the search warrant requirement. Proponents of the bill say it would further protect privacy rights by instructing officers to avoid collecting information on individuals not associated with a search warrant. The bill would also require the destruction of drone-collected evidence not relevant to criminal activity within 30 days.

The introduction of SB 251 follows a recent mandate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that requires all drone owners to register their aircraft with the agency. The FAA is attempting to get a handle on the influx of drones in the national airspace as their popularity continues to make the flying machines more mainstream.

State Representative John Boccieri is both a military and commercial pilot.

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