ACLU of Maine Blasts Attorney General Drone Proposal

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
April 12, 2013 12:04 pm

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Letting Police Make Their Own Rules Puts 4th Amendment in Jeopardy, Says Group

April 12, 2013

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AUGUSTA – The attorney general is pushing back against meaningful limits on law enforcement use of drones, according to the ACLU of Maine. After hearing from both the ACLU and Attorney General Janet Mills, yesterday the Judiciary Committee deferred action on LD 236, a bill that would require the police to get a probable cause warrant before using drones to collect information about people in most cases.

“The attorney general’s proposal falls miles short of protecting civil liberties. Letting law enforcement police themselves is not a meaningful restriction on surveillance under the Fourth Amendment,” said Shenna Bellows, executive director of the ACLU of Maine. “Requiring the police to get a probable cause warrant before using drones to watch people is an absolute necessity if we are going to protect Mainers from overreaching police surveillance.”

The ACLU of Maine and sponsor John Patrick (D-Rumford) support a version of the bill that would require the police to get a court-issued probable cause warrant before using surveillance drones, with exceptions for emergency situations.

The attorney general’s office has pushed back against the warrant requirement, arguing that the police should be allowed to make their own rules for the use of drones. Yesterday, Attorney General Mills proposed an amendment to replace LD 236, which essentially directs the Maine Criminal Justice Academy to come up with policies to regulate drone use.

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