HARTFORD – Legislation cosponsored by Representative Doug Dubitsky (R-47) restricting the use of drones in Connecticut passed out of the state House of Representatives on Friday.
House Bill 5274 has been two years in the making, and the drive to get this legislation passed picked up speed in the final days of the legislative session. Because of the many competing interests which had a hand in drafting the bill, the requirement for police to obtain a warrant before using surveillance drones had been stripped from the version headed to the House Floor for a vote. In the hours leading up to the vote, Rep. Dubitsky worked with a bipartisan group of legislators to ensure that the bill's key provision – requiring police to obtain a warrant from the court before using surveillance drones – was added back into the final bill.
"Drones provide police with an invaluable tool in their efforts to protect the public,” said Rep. Dubitsky. “However, we have to make sure that police use of this new technology does not infringe on the privacy rights of Connecticut's citizens.
“We must recognize this new and fast-spreading technology is dramatically changing the way police do their jobs. But it is the Legislature's duty to get in front of the curve and ensure this new technology is used only in conformity with our long-standing Constitutional principles.”
Other provisions of the bill include banning weaponized drones, including drone use in the voyeurism statute, and prohibiting landing drones on prison property.
The bill now awaits action in the state Senate. The 2016 legislative session ends at midnight on May 4th.
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