California lawmakers are considering bills to draw the lines on where drones can fly in California skies and what limits they must abide by. The rising popularity of the unmanned aircraft also raises concerns about privacy and unchecked surveillance.
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A look at drone legislation introduced this year:
CAN OFFICERS WATCH YOU?
— AB56 by Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, would regulate law enforcement use of drones for surveillance and taking footage, but provisions are opposed by both law enforcement and privacy groups. It passed the Assembly and is pending in the Senate appropriations committee.
— SB262 by Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, was an alternative regulation bill sponsored by the California Police Chiefs Association with less stringent requirements for law enforcement to obtain warrants to conduct surveillance and safeguard footage. It stalled after failing to advance out of a Senate committee.
PEEPING PLANE CRACKDOWN
— SB142 by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, would make it a trespassing crime to fly droves over private property. It passed the Senate and is awaiting a vote before the Assembly floor.
— AB856 by Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, closes a loophole in a law signed last year to make people liable for invasion of privacy when they deploy drones into private areas. It passed the Assembly and is awaiting a Senate floor vote.
— SB271 by Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Rocklin, would make it an infraction to intentionally fly drones above public schools during school hours. It passed the Senate and is pending in the Assembly appropriations committee.
— SB170 by Gaines would make it a felony crime to intentionally fly a drone over the grounds of a state prison or a jail, a way to smuggle drugs or other contraband. It passed the Senate and is pending in the Assembly appropriations committee.
STAYING OUT OF THE FIRE
— SB167 by Gaines and Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, make interfering with firefighting efforts by flying drones over wildfires a misdemeanor crime punishable with up to six months in jail or a $5,000 fine.
— SB168 Gaines and Gatto will provide firefighters immunity for disabling hobbyist drones flying over wildfires, although the bill language has not yet been written.
Source: California Legislative Information.