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One benefit of the sometimes-cumbersome legislative process is that it gives officials a chance to reconsider proposals. So we hope members of the Oklahoma Senate use that opportunity to ask this question about a bill that passed the House: Is it really a good idea to put police officers in jail for using drones to
monitor criminals?

The bill would require law enforcement officials to get a warrant virtually every time they use an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, for surveillance.

That’s just one of many problems with House Bill 2337, by Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore. The bill would require law enforcement officials to get a warrant virtually every time they use an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, for surveillance. Police who run afoul of the law would face up to six months in jail and fines of up $2,500 per violation, and would be subject to civil lawsuits.

While Wesselhoft said the bill simply protects Oklahomans’ Fourth Amendment constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure, the bill’s impact extends well outside the walls of one’s home. One provision actually requires police to get a warrant to use a drone in a public area. And even then, police must demonstrate that “alternative methods of data collection are either cost-prohibitive or present a significant risk to any person’s bodily safety.”

Being from New Mexico I naturally assume that a Republican in Oklahoma is a ‘law ‘n order’ kind of guy. So I find this piece of legislation, which seemingly “handcuffs the cops,” to be a bit severe.
But we better get used to it. Because I think that what we are seeing is a very virulent manifestation of the privacy backlash that the drone world keeps hoping will go away. Maybe, but probably not….

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