California Just Made It A Lot Easier For Police To Use Drones

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
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California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill this week that would have increased restrictions on police drone use, including a provision requiring agencies to obtain a warrant before deploying drones for surveillance.

Brown vetoed the bill Sunday after it passed through both sides of the California state legislature with strong backing from lawmakers. Law enforcement entities including the the Los Angeles District Attorney, state police chief, and sheriff’s associations were heavily opposed to the measure’s passage.

“There are undoubtedly circumstances where a warrant is appropriate,” Brown said in his veto message, according to Reuters. “The bill’s exceptions, however, appear to be too narrow.” Brown indicated the stipulations in the bill went beyond the requirements set down in both the state and federal constitutions.

Ars Technica reports that at least 10 other states, including Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin have already passed bills requiring police to get warrants before using drones.

The bill would have required officers to get a court order for all drone use with the exception of emergency situations, such as fires or when hostages may be involved.

According to the report, the bill would have also required law enforcement agencies to destroy any drone-gathered intelligence after one year.

Republican Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, the bill’s author, took to Twitter and local media to express his disappointment.

“We’re increasingly living in a surveillance society as the government uses new technology to track and watch the activities of Americans,” Gorell told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s disappointing that the governor decided to side with law enforcement in this case over the privacy interests of California.”

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