A joint Assembly hearing on privacy issues surrounding drones is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 8, in Los Angeles — kicking off what could be a busy month at the state Capitol for autonomous flying vehicles.
The Select Committee on Privacy; Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media; and the Judiciary Committee are hosting the 10 a.m. hearing at the UCLA Faculty Center at 480 Charles E. Young Drive East. The discussion topics will be opportunities and privacy considerations associated with drones.
A few bills that would regulate drone activity in California are in play at the state Capitol as the Legislature reconvened Monday from its summer recess.
The furthest along appears to be AB 1327 by Assemblymembers Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo; Steven Bradford, D-Gardena; and Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, which would set limits on how public agencies and law enforcement can use drones. The legislation would force law enforcement to obtain a warrant in most circumstances before flying a drone and would ban the weaponization of drones in California.
The bill also would require public agencies to permanently destroy data collected by drones within a year, except when the data collection is approved in a warrant.
As written, AB 1327 would not supersede federal regulations. The FAA is expected to launch a rulemaking process for drone regulations later this year, and federal law has set a September 2015 due date for comprehensive guidelines that will give commercial and military drones access to U.S. skies.
California and some other states aren’t waiting, amid worries that the federal regulations could be delayed. AB 1327 currently is in the state Senate. On May 13, the Senate Committee on Public Safety approved the bill by a 5-to-1 vote and re-referred it to the Appropriations Committee. The Assembly floor passed the legislation by a 63-to-6 vote on Jan. 29.
The Los Angeles Times urged the state Senate to pass AB 1327 in a July 28 editorial.
Although the regulations remain unsettled, drones are becoming more common in California airspace. The San Jose Police Department made headlines last week after becoming what’s believed to be the first law enforcement agency in the Bay Area to take ownership of a drone. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection also reported that a privately operated drone nearly interfered with firefighting efforts on the Sand Fire at the El Dorado-Amador county line.
This story was originally published by TechWire.