CONCORD, N.H. (July 6, 2016) – A bill that would have restricted the use of drones by state and local law enforcement died in the New Hampshire legislature after a conference committee failed to reconcile House and Senate versions. The legislation would not only have establish important privacy protections at the state level, they would have also help thwart the federal surveillance state.
Rep. Neil Kurk, along with three other legislators, introduced House Bill 602 (HB602) in 2015, and it carried over to the 2016 session. Under the proposed law, New Hampshire state and local law enforcement agencies could not “use drones, or obtain, receive, use, or retain information acquired by or through a drone, to engage in surveillance, to acquire evidence, or to enforce laws,” without a warrant, with a few specific exceptions.
Exceptions to the warrant requirement included use of a drone with prior consent of the person under surveillance, if reasonable suspicion exists to believe swift action is needed to prevent imminent harm to life or serious damage to property, to counter high risk of terrorist attacks, for training and for a few other specifically defined criteria. It also allowed for “judicially recognized exceptions to the warrant requirement.”
The legislation limited drone use under the exceptions to 48 hours, after which the law enforcement agency must obtain a warrant. Warrants also had to be renewed after 48 hours.
HB602 contained a blanket ban on government use of drones armed with lethal or non-lethal weapons.
The legislation also…