Vermont looks to regulate law enforcement drone use

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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Vermont is considering new restrictions on how local law enforcement agencies would be able to use drones, Valley News reported Wednesday.

The looming arrival of domestic drones, which are officially called unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), has sparked widespread privacy concerns. A group of local lawmakers introduced a bill in the state legislature last week that would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant when using surveillance drones to target suspects.

In cases of use of emergency, law enforcement would be required to obtain a warrant no later than 48 hours after using a drone.

Industry advocates, responding to the privacy concerns expressed over the use of UAS for surveillance, have been quick to differentiate between aircraft and surveillance cameras that could be installed on them, saying that the aircraft have numerous other uses besides observation, including search-and-rescue operations.

Some advocates also hope that the integration of UAS into domestic airspace could spur economic and academic innovation.

Law enforcement groups have expressed opposition to the weaponization of UAS, citing public safety concerns.

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