House approves limit on drone surveillance

(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The unmanned aircraft known as drones are becoming more commonplace these days and that has state lawmakers concerned.

New restrictions were approved Monday in the Indiana House of Representatives.

Drones equipped with video cameras are now employed by some police departments in Indiana. For example, they are sometimes used for accident scene investigations.

But what if that camera is used for surveillance at a private residence?

“As technology continues to evolve faster than the law,” said Rep. Eric Koch (R-Bedford), “new issues will emerge.”

So, state lawmakers are trying to shape the law to fit the times. The bill that came up in the Indiana House would require a search warrant before a drone can be used to record video unless there is an emergency.

“The state should not be attempting to get into your private business,” said Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington), “and see things you’re doing, kind of respect your right to privacy, unless they have some cause to believe that you’re engaging in criminal activity.”

But it’s a touchy issue for some who see the need for drone technology.

“I’m not interested in, in advance, limiting the effectiveness of law enforcement,” said Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis).

Yet state police support the bill and the concerns outweighed that plea for caution. The bill passed the House on an 85-11 vote.

It’s a bill that also applies to GPS tracking devices and would limit police access to cell phones and computers unless they first obtain a search warrant.

It now goes to the state Senate for further consideration.

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