On the heels of a Charlottesville, Virginia city council resolution banning the use of drones by the city, Virginia State legislators sent a bill to the governor's desk which would place a two year moratorium on the use of drones. While the state resolution would only place a temporary ban on domestic drone usage, it provides a space from continued activism and education around the dangers that unchecked drones present to constitutional rights.
The Charlottesville resolution specifically prohibits the use of criminal evidence obtained by drone surveillance.
"To me, it’s Big Brother in the sky,” said Dave Norris, a city councilman in Charlottesville, Va., which this month became the first city in the country to restrict the use of drones. “I don’t mean to sound conspiratorial about it, but these drones are coming, and we need to put some safeguards in place so they are not abused."
The bill, spearheaded by The Rutherford Institute and activist David Swanson, found support from a packed room of a supporters at the city council hearing. The pro-drone lobby did not make an appearance, failing to raise some of the orwellian arguments or language that can be found on one of their websites, IncreasingHumanPotential.org. The Charlottesville resolution marks the first success of a number of local and national movements to ban or regulate the use of domestic drones.
In addition to Virgina, states and localities from California to Massachusetts have introduced anti-drone bills. Draft legislation in congress would ban the weaponization of domestic drones, require warrants for drone surveillance and make it a misermeanor to photograph a person without their permission. While the legislation makes an exception for US border areas, it defines these regions as within 25 miles of a land border, rather than the large nebulous zones that have proved to be black holes for constitutional rights. Even without legislation, public pressure in Seattle, Washington caused the police department to forgo the use of a drone for surveillance of crime scenes. Activists across the country are also preparing for a campaign against the use of drones, both domestically and internationally.