State Drone and UAV Policy

Introduction

Drone imageAerial surveillance of drones within the United States raises significant privacy issues. These vehicles can gather detailed information on individuals.

Exemplary Law: Oregon Drone bill

In July 2013, Oregon enacted legislation to limit the use of drones by law enforcement to prevent mass and/or suspicionless surveillance and provides a civil action against drone operators who fly lower than 400 feet over private property. The bill does the following:

  • Prohibits the use of drones by law enforcement except in the following circumstances:
    • A warrant specifically authorizing the use of a drone;
    • Exigent circumstances that make it unreasonable for law enforcement to first get a warrant;
    • Consent;
    • Search and rescue;
    • Assisting an individual in an emergency if imminent threat to life or safety of an individual and the law enforcement agency files, within 48 hours, a sworn statement with the court detailing the nature of the emergency and the need to use a drone.
    • State of emergency declared by governor if used for:
      • Preserving public safety;
      • Protecting property; or
      • Conducting surveillance for the assessment of weather/environmental damage.
    • Reconstruction of a crime scene; or
    • Training.
      • Information gathered during drone training is not admissible in court and is forbidden for being used as reasonable suspicion or probable cause that an offense has been committed.
  • Makes clear that information gathered via drones in violation of this act will not be admissible in court and is forbidden for being used as reasonable suspicion or probable cause that an offense has been committed.
  • Law enforcement must register their drones with the Oregon Department of Aviation and provide annual report detailing:
    • The frequency of use during the past year; and
    • The purpose of the use during the past year.
  • Provides a civil remedy against drone operators that fly lower than 400 feet over private property.

What's Missing from Oregon's Law?

A shortcoming of the Oregon law, and many others, is the lack of privacy protections for the commercial use of drones. Effective drone privacy legislation should include restrictions on the collection, use, and retention of personal information. There should also be reporting requirements for commercial drone operators, including publication of reports on data collection. And all drones should routinely broadcast GPS information, including latitude, longitude, and altitude, course, speed, and battery level.

Additional Resources

Pending Legislation in 2015

epic.org/state-policy/ logo
Back to State Policy home

Share this page:

Support EPIC

EPIC relies on support from individual donors to pursue our work.

Defend Privacy. Support EPIC.

#Privacy

EPIC Bookstore

1984

1984
George Orwell