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Ban On Warrantless Drone Use By Law Enforcement Passes California State Senate

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Police drone. (CBS)

Police drone. (CBS)

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) – The California State Senate passed legislation Thursday night that would, in most cases, require law enforcement and other government agencies to get a warrant before gathering information with an unmanned aircraft.

The bill, which passed the Senate with bipartisan 28-6 support, comes with a number of exceptions that allow agencies to use drones for their “core mission” so long as that mission doesn’t involve a criminal investigation. There would also be warrant exemptions for law enforcement in cases such as fire response, “hot pursuit” of a suspect or hostage recovery efforts. Ongoing investigations would require a warrant.

“The bill would require reasonable public notice to be provided by public agencies intending to deploy unmanned aircraft systems, as specified. The bill would require images, footage, or data obtained through the use of an unmanned aircraft system under these provisions to be permanently destroyed within one year, except as specified,” reads the Legislature summary of the bill, known as AB1327.

The bill also makes images and other information obtained by drone subject to the California Public Records Act, making them available for public inspection in most cases.

The bill has undergone several amendments, and will now head to the State Assembly for a concurrence vote. If the bill clears that vote, it will be sent to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for signature.

READ MORE: SJPD Apologizes For Secrecy Surrounding Drone Purchase

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