California governor vetoes UAS privacy bill passed by legislature

By Patrick C. Miller | September 29, 2014

California Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill passed with bipartisan support by the state’s legislature that would have required law enforcement agencies to obtain search warrants to use UAS except in specific cases.

In his veto message, Brown wrote: “There are undoubtedly circumstances where a warrant is appropriate. The bill’s exceptions, however, appear to be too narrow and could impose requirements beyond what is required by either the 4th Amendment or privacy provisions in the California Constitution.”

Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo—author of the Drone Privacy Protection Act of 2014—noted that it was the only UAS protection bill passed by the legislature. He expressed disappointment that Brown vetoed a bill which “provided commonsense protections to protect privacy rights and civil liberties.”

Gorell added, “We live in an era of government surveillance, where powerful government agencies like the NSA and IRS have demonstrated blatant disregard for Americans’ privacy rights.”

The legislation received endorsements and support from several California newspapers and numerous constitutional law professors, among others. It was opposed by organizations representing police chiefs and sheriffs.

The bill would have prohibited public agencies in California from using UAS or contracting for their use, but provided an exception when they achieved “the core mission of the agency and the purpose is unrelated to the gathering of criminal intelligence.”

The legislation would have required law enforcement agencies to provide reasonable public notice when they intended to deploy UAS. Except in certain instances, images, footage or data obtained by UAS would have been permanently destroyed within one year. The law generally prohibited information obtained by UAS from being distributed outside the collecting public agency.

Unless authorized by a federal law, the bill would have prohibited UAS from being equipped with weapons or devices intended to cause injury or death to people or damage