No warrant for drones
State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma announced that House Bill 1556, which would have required law enforcement to obtain a warrant before they used drones for targeted surveillance, and forbid civilian drones from being weaponized, would be held over for the next session.
A call for an interim study on privacy issues related to drones will be proposed in place of the bill. The move comes as a result of opposition to the legislation from the office of Governor Mary Fallin.
“Of course we’re disappointed that we won’t be able to do more this legislative session. I will seek the Speaker’s approval of an interim study that at least keeps the issue alive,” said Wesselhoft, R-Moore.
The Governor’s Secretary of Science and Technology, Dr. Stephen McKeever, and the Governor’s Chief of Staff had previously called on Wesselhoft and the ACLU of Oklahoma to table HB 1556 for the year because of concerns the legislation would jeopardize Oklahoma’s application with the FAA to serve as an unmanned aerial systems test site. But after reviewing the application, Wesselhoft and the ACLU of Oklahoma strongly disagree with that conclusion.
Wesselhoft and the ACLU of Oklahoma have maintained since the introduction of HB 1556 that the potential benefits of drone technology could coexist with the privacy of Oklahomans, but that without HB 1556, current privacy laws were inadequate.
“I am a champion of both drone technology and privacy rights. I hoped that this proposed Oklahoma law would have been the first and best model legislation for the entire nation. Unfortunately we must wait until the next session,” Wesselhoft said.