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Assembly Passes Bill Aimed At Tougher Limits On Government Drone Use

CAMARILLO ( — State lawmakers Wednesday passed a bill that would protect privacy rights of Californians establishing basic restrictions on the government use of unmanned aerial systems, also known as "drones".

Introduced by Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo), Assembly Bill 1327 addresses privacy concerns by implementing strict warrant requirements for law enforcement agencies looking to utilize the technology, except in specified situations.

It also mandates any government agency to provide public notice when it intends to use drones, requires drone-collected images and data to be destroyed within1 year, and prohibits the weaponization of drones. AB 1327 also makes clear that local jurisdictions can adopt even stricter rules than what are prescribed in the bill.

"Over the next decade drone technology will become much more common in California's airspace," Gorell said in a statement. "There are tremendous benefits that can be realized from these tools, but only if we first pass the legislation that will protect our civil and privacy rights from abuses of the technology. As the tech capitol of the nation, California should also lead in protecting our privacy from intrusions by new technology."

The proposed civilian use of drones has exploded in recent year in industries ranging cargo transport, communications, and filmmaking to security, forestry and geology. Private companies such as UPS and Amazon have also begun exploring how they can utilize drones commercially.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is among several local officials who have endorsed the bill, along with the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News.

AB 1327 now heads to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

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