Could drones soon be buzzing over your neighborhood? On Wednesday, lawmakers are debating whether to approve two bills that put ground rules on drone use in Washington state.
Two drone bills passed the House Wednesday morning and were making their way through the Senate in Olympia. One bill sets rules on how state government can deploy drones; the other bill aims to protect citizens’ privacy. If passed, it would be illegal to fly a drone with any recording device over a park or over your home.
“This bill deals with how it’s deployed, not saying drones are bad and should not ever be used,” said Rep. Jeff Morris, (D) 40th Legislative District..
House Bill 2178 would make it illegal in Washington for drones to record any personal information in unregulated air space. The second drone bill, House Bill 2789, sets rules and restrictions how state government can deploy drones.
Under the bill, law enforcement must get a warrant to use a drone for surveillance on a suspect similar to getting a wire tap.
There is one exception: drones can be used for natural resource management, such as controlling wildfires. But with companies like Amazon and Netflix testing out drone deliveries, lawmakers say the bills would not prevent drone deliveries in Washington.
“A drone that’s just delivering a package to use the Amazon example, unless they’re collecting facial recognition from you or taking random video tape, they wouldn’t be impacted by the laws we’re talking about,” said Rep. Morris, (D)- 40th Legislative District.
Rep. Morris says later down the line, lawmakers will work on a commercial drone bill specifically for businesses. But for now, the two bills concentrate on privacy and government use.
The first public hearing on House Bill 2789 will be held Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Senate in Olympia.