Interview: North Dakota State Rep. To Introduce Legislation Limiting Drone Use

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Surveillance drones are a mixed bag. On one hand, they’re represent a major advancement for law enforcement functions such as looking for missing people or apprehending fleeing suspects. On the other hand, many are worried about the potential for the abuse of drones by the government and violations of privacy.

State Rep. Rick Becker (R – District 7) was concerned about the use of drones, and had heard concerns from constituents as well, and is developing legislation for the upcoming session that would limit the use of drones in North Dakota.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1IlhLzh4_M&w=640&h=480]

Becker says his focus is on finding away to allow law enforcement to use this new tool while also ensuring it isn’t abused. He said he hasn’t yet spoken to law enforcement leaders about the issue, but plans to include their insight.

What he aims to do is limit the use of drones to surveillance only, meaning no weapons, and to require a warrant from the courts when the drones are used as a part of a criminal investigation. Becker envisions a situation where no evidence gathered from the use of a surveillance drone without a warrant could be admissible in court.

Becker would like to see drones available for use without a warrant in situations such as a missing person or a fleeing criminal suspect.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • camsaure

    And lets hope that includes the Federal Govts use also.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      It won’t. Not much the legislature can do about that.

      • Mike Peterson

        The Feds would be the biggest problem, too. I hope to see state legislators ride the Tenth Amendment until the wheels come off.

  • Waski_the_Squirrel

    The trouble with advancing technology is that there is no precedence. For example, can a police officer use an infrared camera to detect marijuana growth? Can you send a drone over my property to look for crime? Can you use a dog to detect drugs? Is a warrant required for any of these uses? Under which conditions might a warrant not be necessary.

    This is a healthy discussion. The drone has a legitimate place in law enforcement, but we have to be careful not to step into invasion of privacy. Of course, as Rob pointed out in a comment, what the legislature does is less important than what the federal government does.

    • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

      Well said.

      We are in unprecedented times. As the government’s capabilities grow, so must our protections.

      We certainly can’t go backward on technology.

    • Matthew

      I am much more concerned about the sensors that can be used than about the drone. Sensor technology is far more advanced than most people realized. They can practically look through walls these days with the right type of sensor.

      • http://sayanythingblog.com Rob

        That’s a really good point.

        Infrared sensors, for instance, can essentially give law enforcement x-ray vision to see where everyone in the house is and, based on their movements, what they’re doing.

        Of course, that kind of technology can also be attached to drones…

        • Guest

          And of course if any of you had any semblance of knowledge about the topic, you’d know the Supreme Court has already ruled on the use of such technology. http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/99-8508.ZS.html

          Of course, not being informed has never stopped Rob from spouting his moronic diatribes.

        • Matthew Hawkins

          A couple of years ago I went to an open house at an Intel lablet showing off their university research projects. Some of the projects were about home security. They are way past simple infrared. With the powerful computers easily available these days, it is like looking at a regular picture.

          I don’t mind the police using drones with simple optics to see what is outside. But I think you have a reasonable expectation of privacy inside your house and to look inside your house they should always need a warrant.

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