This May the New Hampshire Senate will vote on a bill to limit drones over private property.
The bill, HB 1627, would specifically prohibit any use of a drone to observe or record a person on private property where the person has a "reasonable expectation of privacy" on ground level.
According to bill sponsor Rep. Neal Kurk, the bill would forbid someone from using a drone to observe a person in a fenced backyard or similarly private area.
HB 1627 would also prohibit recording or surveillance of people in public for financial gain – with exceptions for newsgathering or if a person gave consent.
Current law on drones
Right now, anyone must register a drone between 0.55 and 55 pounds with the FAA. Additionally, no one can fly a drone within five miles of an airport.
There are some additional regulations for anyone flying a drone for commercial or government purposes.
However, there are no state laws specifically limiting the use of drones, and many people using drones do not register with the FAA.
Does NH need to ban drone surveillance?
Bill supporters, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), argue that state privacy laws need an update to protect citizens from drones.
There are ample reports of drones flying over backyard sunbathers, cruising past upstairs windows, and so on.
However, state and federal courts have generally not protected privacy in airspace over a backyard the same way they have within the home.
Are existing privacy laws enough?
Opponents argue that existing privacy laws – such as the law against installing a device to observe a private place – are enough to protect citizens.
Other opponents argue that as written, HB 1627 is very ambiguous. The bill would potentially stop police from using a drone or even a helicopter camera during an active pursuit.
Do you think NH should have a law against using a drone or similar technology to observe or record people over private property? Share your opinion in the comments below.