News Release

Drones in Your Backyard

The Associated Press reported yesterday: “At the start of what could be a new era in police surveillance, an Illinois legislator is proposing a limit on how law enforcement agencies can use drones highly sophisticated, unmanned aircraft that authorities are eyeing for aerial surveillance.”

SHAHID BUTTAR
NADIA KAYYALI
Buttar is executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, which just released two model ordinances to assist local communities in the battle against domestic surveillance drones across the US. Kayyali is a legal fellow with the group. Buttar said today: “Because the legal landscape governing drones is essentially barren, law enforcement agencies around the country are currently making policy to suit their interests. But we live in a constitutional Republic, meaning that We the People hold the opportunity — and responsibility — to petition our local representatives for legal protections that Congress is too timid to provide.

“Together, BORDC’s two models satisfy diverse interests. One creates a drone-free zone, while the second model establishes rigorous requirements limiting their use by law enforcement agencies and other public officials. The model regulating drone use (rather than prohibiting it entirely) allows drones to be used pursuant to a judicially issued warrant as well as for non-law enforcement purposes such as fire detection, hazardous material spill response, search & rescue, and natural disaster response.

“Beyond addressing constitutional concerns, the legislation also responds to safety concerns. For instance: [M]any of the drone models currently available to law enforcement have limited flying time, cannot be flown in inclement weather, must be flown in sight of an operator, and can only be flown during the day, thus making them ill-suited to search and rescue missions and best suited for pervasive surveillance.”

The model legislation is available online:
http://constitutioncampaign.org/campaigns/resources//DronesAnnotated.pdf (annotated)
http://constitutioncampaign.org/campaigns/resources//Drones.pdf