By Elisha Dorfsmith
A bill introduced by Republican State Senator John Kavanagh seeking to regulate private drones easily sailed through the Senate Transportation Committee at the Arizona capital this afternoon. SB1449 should clear the Senate Judiciary Committee later this week and is quickly heading for a full vote in the State Senate in the coming days.
While there are some decent arguments on all sides of this bill, the biggest concern I have with it is that it exempts law enforcement from having to follow the same rules that drone hobbyists will have to obey.
The bill summary makes this very clear:
“Allows a law enforcement agency to operate an unmanned aircraft for an investigation or a search and rescue operation.”
Digging deeper into the details, this bill says that if you fly your drone over someone’s private property without permission you are committing a misdemeanor. If you film certain facilities (prisons, hospitals, water treatment plants etc.) without written permission you are committing a felony.
On the other hand, if law enforcement is flying over and filming your backyard (or any other place) for any reason, they get a free pass to do so.
Yesterday I was interviewed by Cronkite News (Arizona PBS) about this problem and today they published a paragraph about my concerns:
“It’s not just hobbyists who would feel the impact of new regulations. Elisha Dorfsmith, a Flagstaff resident and Flagstaff Liberty Alliance board member, said he opposes Kavanagh’s bill because it doesn’t explicitly prohibit law enforcement officers from using drones without a warrant.”
You can read the entire article here:
There are legitimate concerns that individuals may use drones to invade people’s privacy but many of these concerns are already covered under existing law. The bigger concern is passing laws that limit individual rights while exempting government from these same laws.
I would argue that government snooping is a bigger threat to my privacy than my neighbor flying his drone over my backyard.
By Elisha Dorfsmith
Frequent readers of my blog know that I have long advocated for changes to existing City laws that discourage urban farming and keeping animals for food in Flagstaff.
Flagstaff Liberty Alliance and other groups I work with have put forward ordinances and resolutions and creative solutions but we have always faced a lot of opposition from various groups in town and from some council members.
This year things were different and supporters of urban farming finally succeeded with the Flagstaff City Council approving very positive changes to the animal keeping part of the City Code by a 7-0 vote.
These changes go above and beyond anything we ever hoped for and even include the legalization of small animal slaughter and beekeeping.
Today these changes are highlighted in an excellent article in the Daily Sun which is linked below.
Thanks to everyone who got involved to make this happen and special thanks to Councilmember Jeff Oravits for being the driving force on council to get these changes approved!
You can read the Daily Sun article here: