Apparently, someone made a plea to the Legislature in Olympia this past session about drone surveillance; it promptly passed legislation that is now before the governor.
This legislation bans government agencies from using drones with cameras or audio recorders on them.
But it really doesn't.
With a warrant, it allows police forces to use them -- secretly even -- for up to half a year.
And then it requires police departments to destroy the record of what they've collected within 10 days, unless they plan to use the information in a prosecution.
So, neither the person watched, nor the public at large, has any way to evaluate what the police have been up to.
There are loopholes for other agencies, too, unless drones are used to catch rule-breakers. Big no-no.
Further, the law catalogs "personal information" somehow in danger of being scooped up by drones - although we have no idea how - to quote:
"His or her Social Security number, driver's license number, agency-issued identification number, student identification number, real or personal property holdings derived from tax returns, and the person's education, financial transactions, medical history, ancestry, religion, political ideology, or criminal or employment record; or intellectual property, trade secrets, proprietary information, or operational information; or affords a basis for inferring personal characteristics, such as finger and voice prints, photographs, or things done by or to such person; and the record of the person's presence, registration, or membership in an organization or activity, or admission to an institution; or indexes anything about a person including, but not limited to, his or her activities, behaviors, pursuits, conduct, interests, movements, occupations, or associations."
There seems to be a pernicious hidden agenda here to redefine personal information to cover everything everyone does, even in the public arena. It's being mashed up with fear of new technology, which, as far as we know, no agency intends to use, anyway.
Gov. Jay Inslee needs to veto this bill, so one can be written that makes sense.
©2014 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho)