SACRAMENTO — A state lawmaker has revived legislation to curb public agencies’ use of drones just two months after Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill with nearly identical aspirations.
Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, unveiled AB 37 on Monday, the first day of the new two-year legislative session. The bill would require law enforcement agencies to obtain warrants before using unpiloted aircraft, except in certain situations, including “hot pursuits,” and natural disasters. Drone-collected images would have to be destroyed within a year, and agencies would have to notify the public about their plans for using such aircraft.
The bill is, in part, a response to the San Jose Police Department’s acquisition this summer of a drone without a public hearing or discussions about use policies.
“We must ensure that information collected by drones is not used against law-abiding people, and that people’s civil rights remain intact,” Campos said in a prepared statement.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers pushed similar legislation last year, and large majorities in both houses sent the bill to the governor’s desk. But amid law enforcement concerns that the bill was too restrictive, Brown rejected it, calling the warrant exceptions “too narrow” in his veto message.
“While prior legislation on this topic … was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, drones are here to stay and my bill will be a vehicle for finding the right balance,” Campos said. “I look forward to working with all the interested parties.”
As of September, 20 states had some kind of drone-restricting law on the books, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
Campos said she expects that many of the supporters of last year’s drone legislation will back her bill.
A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California declined to comment on the bill, saying that organization leaders had just learned of AB 37 on Monday and were still reviewing its contents.
A message left with the California State Sheriffs’ Association, which opposed the drone legislation that emerged last session, was not immediately returned.
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