Bill introduced to regulate domestic drones

Bipartisan legislation would seek to stem warrantless drone surveillance

Published February 14, 2013 9:18PM (EST)

     (Wikimedia/US Navy)
(Wikimedia/US Navy)

The proliferation of surveillance drones in the United States in the hands of private companies, police forces and government bodies has alarmed civil liberties advocates concerned about privacy breaches the technology could permit. In an attempt to combat warrantless surveillance with drones, a bill with bipartisan support was introduced to the House Wednesday.

The bill, introduced by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Ted Poe, R-Texas, "would require law enforcement to get a search warrant or some other kind of judicial approval for surveillance before using drones to investigate criminal wrongdoing," reported Firedoglake's Kevin Gosztola, adding, "It would, however, allow drone use for fire and rescue missions, monitoring droughts, assessing flood damage or chasing a fleeing criminal." The legislation would also ban law enforcement from arming the surveillance drones.

The ACLU has come out in support of the bill. "Unmanned drones must not become a perpetual presence in our lives, hovering over us, following us and recording our every move," said Chris Calabrese, legislative counsel for the ACLU in a statement. "Strict rules should govern the use of drones by the government. By requiring that law enforcement secure judicial approval before using drones, this legislation achieves the right balance for the use of these eyes in the sky."

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Aclu Domestic Drones Drones Privacy Ted Poe U.s. House Of Representatives Zoe Lofgren