Politics

A northern Kentucky state legislator wants to regulate how law enforcement can use drone footage in the state and also create penalties for people who use drones to infringe on people’s privacy.

State Rep. Diane St. Onge, a Republican from Lakeside Park, said a bill she’s proposing in the upcoming legislative session will prevent law enforcement from using drones without a search warrant.

“So any evidence that they collect without first securing a search warrant would not be admissible in any court of law, any hearing, any proceedings,” St. Onge said.

In emergency situations, law enforcement wouldn’t have to obtain a warrant before using the drone — as long as they obtained a warrant within 48 hours, St. Onge said.

Drones used by educational institutions, the military and business would still be permitted to use drone footage, St. Onge said.

This will be the third year that the bill has been proposed.

The Airborne Law Enforcement Association, a Maryland-based group, has opposed legislation similar to the bill St. Onge is proposing.

This year, St. Onge is proposing an additional bill that would make “drone harassment” a crime.

The legislation defines drone harassment as willingly uses a drone to “intimidate, harass, annoy, or alarm another person.”

“That prevents the peeping tom in the hot tub situation, or at least lets the person knows that these are the consequences if charges are pressed,” St. Onge said.

The bill would create a warning for the first violation, a class B misdemeanor for the second and a class A misdemeanor for the third and subsequent violations.

Last summer, a Hillview man made national headlines when he a shot down a drone hovering over his back yard.

St. Onge says she doesn’t approve of shooting down drones in populated areas, but privacy rights have to be protected somehow.

“This bill is trying to take a look at what we can do to say, ‘Hey, this is inappropriate use of a drone and we’re not going to tolerate it.’”

The Federal Aviation Administration prohibits drones from flying above 400 feet, but there are few laws regulating drones at lower altitudes.

The FAA announced Wednesday that operators will have to register their drones starting Dec. 21.

The legislative session starts Jan. 5.

(Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives.