Since last year, surveillance drones have been the subject of fierce debate both among legislators and the public, giving rise to an impressive amount of legislation—proposed and enacted—to protect individuals’ privacy.
Working closely with our lobbyists in state capitols around the country, we’ve been tracking drone legislative activity and working hard to make sure privacy-protective bills become law. The chart below shows the current status of the 2014 state legislation as we understand it. It also includes the bills that became law in 2013. We will keep the below chart up-to-date as we receive new information.
Like last year, almost all of the bills we’re seeing require law enforcement to get a probable cause warrant before using a drone in an investigation. This year, though, much of the proposed legislation is more complex, taking into account the more challenging issues like what to do with information that is collected incidentally to lawful drone use, how long law enforcement can hang on to drone-collected data, and how to handle government access to information collected by third-party drones. This may be one reason that drones legislation is moving more slowly this year.
If you are interested in the full complement of 2013 legislative activity, you can find that information here. We have also posted analyses of the first drone bills to become law and the first drones bills introduced, and we released a report on drones available here.
2014 legislation introduced in 36 states, active in 22 states, and enacted in 4 states.
Overall (2013-2014): laws enacted in 13 states.
AlabamaPassed Senate. Legislature adjourned without further action.Covers private use of drones to document hunting and fishingAlaskaIntroduced; legislature adjourned without futher action. ArizonaIntroduced. Legislature adjourned without further action. CaliforniaPassed House and passed Senate committee ConnecticutIntroduced. Legislature adjourned without furhter action. FloridaLegislation enacted in 2013 GeorgiaIntroduced; legislature adjourned without further action. HawaiiPassed Senate; legislature adjourned without further action. IdahoLegislation enacted in 2013 IllinoisLegislation passed both chambers and awaiting governor’s signature to update legislation enacted in 2013.Updates the 2013 law to cover law enforcement access to information gathered by third-party dronesIndiana
Legislation enacted, goes into effect July 1, 2014.
IowaLegislation enacted. KansasIntroduced. Legislature adjourned without further action. KentuckyIntroduced; legislature adjourned without further action LouisianaPassed Senate. Legislature adjourned without further action.Bill contains a number of prohibitions on private use of drones and very few meaningful protections from drone surveillance by law enforcement.MarylandDied in committee MassachusettsIntroduced MichiganIntroduced MinnesotaDied in committee MissouriPassed House. Legislature adjourned without further action. MontanaLegislation enacted in 2013 NebraskaIndefinitely postponed New HampshireDead for this year (referred for interim study) New JerseyGovernor “pocket vetoed” a 2013 bill at the beginning of 2014. New YorkIntroduced North CarolinaTwo-year moratorium enacted (PDF, p. 41) in 2013. Legislature is engaged in an interim study process that will likely produce further legislation. Legislature does not convene until May 12.OhioPassed committee OklahomaPassed committee. Legislature adjourned without further action. OregonLegislation enacted in 2013 PennsylvaniaIntroduced Rhode IslandHeld for further study South CarolinaPassed House. Legislature adjourned without further action.Passed House unanimouslyTennesseeLegislation enacted in 2013.
2014 legislation enacted, goes into effect July 1, 2014
2013 law covers law enforcement use of drones. 2014 law covers private use of drones to document hunting and fishing
TexasLegislation enacted in 2013 Utah
Legislation enacted, goes into effect May 13, 2014.
VermontIntroduced; legislature adjourned without further action. Virginia
Legislation enacted in 2013
2014 bill introduced; legislature adjourned without further action
WashingtonPassed both chambers, VETOED by governor West VirginiaIntroduced; legislature adjourned without further action. Wisconsin
Legislation enacted, went into effect April 9, 2014.
WyomingBill introduced; legislature adjourned without further action.