Privacy foremost at hearing on NH bill to restrict government spying, commercial use of drones
The use of camera-equipped drones would be restricted under House Bill 1620, which is before the Senate Judiciary Committee after being passed overwhelmingly by the House. (ISTOCK)
House Bill 1620, which would regulate the use of aerial drone photography and broadcasts by government agencies and private individuals, cleared the New Hampshire House on March 12 and was passed to the state Senate on an overwhelming voice vote.
Kurk has worked for more than two years on a bill he says balances the privacy rights of New Hampshire citizens with potential benefits of drone technology.
Barry said the bill establishes restrictions on drones that do not apply to helicopters or other forms of aerial newsgathering, and leaves open the question of what is really "newsworthy" or "open to the public."
"I could see an issue where the Goodyear blimp flies over a football game, and since the blimp has people inside of it, that's OK," he said. "But if they get rid of the pilot and operate it remotely, then under this law, that could become illegal."
"I am not a spy, and I'm not out to violate anyone's privacy," he said. "I would just like to use drones for the same kinds of purposes I currently use other devices. We already have very clear laws about what a photographer can and cannot do from planes and balconies and from windows looking down. Those laws are sufficient to protect legitimate privacy concerns."
Devon Chaffee, executive director of the N.H. American Civil Liberties Union, urged the Senate to take a hard look at the provisions of the law that would affect private use.
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