'No Photos From The Sky' Bill Trimmed Back, But Still Could Create Felons Out Of Kids Playing With Toy Drones

from the silly-law dept

A few weeks back, we wrote about an absolutely ridiculous bill that was proposed in New Hampshire that would have made it illegal to do any aerial photography, if the images showed any "residential dwelling." As we noted, this would make things like various mapping services illegal. Given the criticism, it appears that the bill's sponsor, Rep. Neal Kurt, decided to rewrite it, limiting it to just "drones," after admitting that the whole idea for the bill came after he saw a toy drone for sale in the mall. Kurt appears to have an overactive imagination when it comes to those toy drones, because he's worried about them firing lasers, if the text of the bill (HB 619-FN) is any indication:
II. “Drone” means an unmanned flying machine that is capable of:
(a) Capturing images or sounds of objects or people on the ground, in or about buildings or structures, or in the air;
(b) Intercepting communications on the ground, in or about buildings and structures, or in the air; or
(c) Firing a bullet, LASER-type ray, other projectile or any kind of lethal or non-lethal weapon.
Unfortunately, the bill is still way too broad. While mapping programs may be legal, any use of a drone to photograph a person or people becomes a felony. Also if you photograph the inside of a building. From the sky. Maybe that's via the lasers. The only way around this law is to get "prior, written consent" from the person photographed.

This is the kind of bill you get when you have a politician with an overactive imagination, who sees a toy drone and can only think "bad things will happen with this," and refuses to consider the many cool things that can be done with drones today. Chris Anderson built a whole company after being inspired to build drones with his kids. If this bill passes, and he's in New Hampshire with his kids, having fun, teaching them things about building things, physics, aerodynamics and more, they could all become felons if their drone takes a photo of someone without "prior, written consent." That's just silly.

Thankfully, it sounds like most of the people who went to a hearing on the bill spoke out against it -- including a Brigadier General from the US Army who pointed out that the federal government has "exclusive sovereignty" over airspace, and the State of New Hampshire does not.
First to testify was a Brigadier General from the US Army. He began by firmly reminding the committee that the airspace above New Hampshire was not owned by New Hampshire, but by the United States of America, and therefore controlled by the FAA. One of the committee members challenged him as to where that authority came from. The General was kind enough to quote chapter and verse. There were no more questions.
It's a bit disappointing to see that the ACLU is pledging "strong support" for the bill. Yes, I understand the concerns and worries about domestic drone use by governments for surveillance purposes -- and I support efforts by various groups to build transparency and clear rules around such usage -- but this bill goes way beyond that.
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Filed Under: airspace, drones, new hampshire, photographs, privacy
Companies: aclu


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Mar 2013 @ 6:31am

    Re: Dumbest idea for a law in a while!

    Wow, awkward run-on sentence, maybe I'm the one who needs an IQ test!

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