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House passes bipartisan measure to regulate drones, sponsored by Rep. Goodman
Rep. Roger Goodman
The Washington State House passed a bill Monday that provides a framework for the public use of drones, defined in the bill as Extraordinary Sensing Devices or ESD, in a 83-15 vote.
Rep. Roger Goodman, Chair of the House Public Safety Committee and sponsor of the bill, steered the bill to enactment.
“We are being watched, and we know it,” Goodman said. “There are cameras affixed to buildings, streets, parking lots. We don’t have a complete expectation of privacy. But we are also being watched and we don’t know it – by extraordinary sensing devices.”
Current state law doesn’t address ESDs and the information they collect. The bill requires state and local agencies to obtain explicit approval from the agency's governing body before procuring a drone.
“Unmanned aerial vehicles are game-changing technology,” Goodman said. “Not only are these an invasion of privacy under the 4th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but also under Article I, Section 7 of our state constitution, which protects our privacy to a greater degree. This bill calls for reasonable regulation to prevent warrantless, suspicionless searches and fishing expeditions.”
The bill strikes a delicate balance between public safety and privacy protection. Police agencies will only be able to use ESDs in criminal investigations by obtaining a warrant. There are exceptions to preserve public safety, including imminent threats to life, natural disasters, military training and emergency response.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.