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New Hampshire Bill Takes on Warrantless Drone Spying

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Droneby Michael Maharrey, Activist Post

A New Hampshire bill that would restrict the warrantless or weaponized use of drones by law enforcement passed an important House committee recently. The legislation would not only establish important privacy protections at the state level, it would also help thwart the federal surveillance state.

Representative Neil Kurk, Representative Robert Cushing and Representative Paul Berch filed House Bill 97 (HB97) on January 4th. Under the proposed law, New Hampshire government agencies could not “use drones, or obtain, receive, use, or retain information acquired by or through a drone, for law enforcement purposes,” without a warrant, with a few specific exceptions. HB97 also includes a blanket ban on the use of drones equipped with lethal or non-lethal weapons.

The bill passed the Executive Departments and Administration Committee with an “ought to pass” recommendation by a 15-3 vote.

The proposed law would allow law enforcement agencies to conduct warrantless drone surveillance pursuant to a legally-recognized exception to the warrant requirement. Other exceptions to the warrant requirement include use of a drone with prior consent of the person under surveillance, if reasonable suspicion exists to believe swift action is needed to prevent imminent harm to life or serious damage to property, to support the tactical deployment of law enforcement personnel and equipment in an emergency situation, to counter high risk of terrorist attacks, for training and for a few other specifically defined criteria.

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