Congress started it all this year when it voted to allow drones to fly in the U.S. as soon as 2015. Now it’s fighting against its self-imposed deadline to pass legislation that limits the scope of the new technology.
At a hearing Friday, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations discussed what measures should be included in a federal bill that would protect Fourth Amendment rights without limiting the potential benefits of drones.
“The expectation of privacy down the road is going to not be expanded but made smaller,” said Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX). “I think that’s what members of the Supreme Court, to me, are saying, which concerns me. So Congress needs to set a standard.”
The meeting was the second on the topic of domestic drones this year and reflects a mad dash by both state and federal lawmakers to place checks on the technology before it’s readily available.
In February, Congress voted to make the Federal Aviation Administration let drones fly in U.S. airspace by 2015. In response, four states have already passed legislation limiting the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems within their borders. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 32 states in total have active legislation that would limit the not-yet-legal technology. Yet no federal bill has passed.
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