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Rep. Kawasaki Files Bill to Protect Privacy Rights from Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Searches

JUNEAU – Representative Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) filed legislation today to protect Alaskans from private invasion by unmanned aerial vehicles. The legislation (HB 159) would require that a judicial warrant be obtained before using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly referred to as “drones” to gather information similar to warrants obtained currently by law enforcement. It would also make it illegal to operate a drone on the premises of another person without the aforementioned warrant.

“My bill seeks to correct and protect. Alaskans have long defended their strong rights to privacy,” said Rep. Kawasaki. “It is amazing how fast technology has advanced in a few short years. The technology has advanced faster than the laws meant to protect our fundamental right to privacy.”

Drones have been employed to track animal migration trends, analyze weather patterns and warn military troops to potential dangers. However, the potential is there for drones to collect personal and other private information. Alaskans have called for stricter regulations of the usage of information gathered by drones regarding regular citizens.

“Drones are a helpful evolution in technology,” said Representative Kawasaki. “Yet we must also proceed cautiously and have very clear rules about when and for what reason a government or commercial agency should operate a drone to gather data.”

HB 159 joins a rising effort across the country to protect citizens’ privacy rights. Thus far, 13 states have filed similar legislation including Montana, North Dakota and Idaho. HB 159 has been referred to the House State Affairs, Transportation, Judiciary and Finance Committees.

If you have additional questions, please call Riley Leonard at 907-465-3466.

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