As Drone Use Takes Off, Welch Urges Privacy Protections

Jul 12, 2013

With the use of drones increasing by law enforcement and private industry, Congressman Peter Welch wants the public’s privacy protected as the unmanned machines take to the sky.

Welch, D-Vt., has introduced legislation that says the Federal Aviation Administration must require operators to disclose where the drone will be flown and what kind of data will be collected.

Welch says the FAA estimates that 30,000 drones will operating in the country over the next 20 years.

“And if that technology is going to be used, then we want to make sure privacy protection rights keep up with new technologies so this legislation attempts to address that by setting standards,” he said.

The bill would require law enforcement agencies and their contractors to get a warrant for their aerial surveillance. It also says the agencies would have to spell out how they would minimize collection of data that’s unrelated to their investigations.

The bill allows an exception to the warrant requirement if law enforcement needed drones in search and rescue operations, or to prevent imminent death or serious injury.