MONTPELIER, Vt. (Dec. 16, 2015) – A privacy bill prefiled in the Vermont Senate would restrict the use of drones by state and local law enforcement, and would also provide some restrictions on sharing of data gathered by automatic license plate readers in the state. The legislation would not only establish important privacy protections at the state level, it would also help thwart the federal surveillance state.
Sen. Tim Ashe, Sen. Joe Benning and Sen. Dick Sears prefiled Senate Bill 155 (S.155) earlier this month. The legislation would prohibit the use of drones by Vermont law enforcement for most any purpose, and would bar the disclosure or reception of any information acquired through the operation of a drone without a warrant in most situations.
S.155 would allow for the warrantless use of a drone in an emergency situation in which there was an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to any person. Even under this exception, police would still have to obtain a warrant within 48 hours. If they failed to do so, any information gathered would have to be destroyed and would be inadmissible in court.
The bill also bars using any drone-mounted facial recognition technology on any person other than one named specifically in a warrant.
The legislation prohibits arming drones with a “Dangerous or deadly weapon,” or from firing any type of projectile from an unmanned aircraft.
S.155 also features limits on storage and sharing of information gathered by automatic license plate readers. The bill…